How to buy responsibly

I'm not sure if it has to do with getting older and becoming more aware of the world around me, or these times we're living in but for a while now I really don't enjoy shopping for clothes as much as I used to. When I was younger I couldn't wait to go to central Amsterdam with my friends and 'shop till we dropped'. Preferably stopping by Starbucks first to get one of these awfully sugary Caramel macchiato's. But a lot has changed since then.

I think one defining moment for me was watching the documentary The True Cost, which is about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the clothing industry is having on our world. The documentary wasn't a complete revelation for me, because I knew before watching it that the working conditions in the clothing industry are really bad for many people, but I never completely grasped the massive impact this industry has on the environment.

Not long after that I found myself standing in a huge Zara in Rome, some items in hand to try on, looking at the masses of shoppers going through the latest collection, and I thought: "What on earth am I doing here??". It just didn't feel right, all these people buying clothes they probably didn't need, possibly made by people under unacceptable working conditions and made of materials that are not sustainable in the quantities they are made now.

We are currently living in an age of consumerism where people are just buying things for the sake of buying. It shouldn't be like that. The whole idea of fast fashion, where items should be available as soon as they're shown on the catwalk so you can always buy clothes that are 'on trend', is a bit ridiculous if you think about it. I'm not saying we should only buy new clothes when we really need them, but buying a new t-shirt shouldn't be as normal as doing groceries either. People should be aware of the work and resources that go into making a garment and understand what impact the clothing industry has on the environment.

I think one step in the right direction is buying less, but whenever I do buy something new, it should be a responsible and sustainable buy. So the question is: how do I do that? If you were hoping to find an answer to this question in this post, I must disappoint you, I'll give some suggestions, but what I really want, is to hear how you go about buying responsibly.

I think a good option is to buy second hand clothes. It's one of the easiest ways to improve your fashion sustainability, and it can be quite cheap as well. In some second hand shops, they even customise items to make them more fashionable. Some of my favourite places in London are Blitz and Ragyard, close to Brick Lane. But admittedly thrift shopping can be quite difficult, especially if you need something specific.

When buying 'new' new clothes, the most difficult thing I find is to determine what brands are 'good' and which are not. How do I know if a brand is sustainable and treats its employees right? Should I focus on where a garment was made, what it's made of or something completely different? When buying new clothes I usually check what they're made of, because I prefer to wear clothes made of natural fibres rather than synthetic fibres. But to be honest, I don't really look at whether a cotton shirt has been made in a sustainable way or not, because that information is usually not provided on the garment itself.

Not too long ago I came across Project Just, which aims to inform consumers about fashion brands. It's a website that provides a catalogue of research on fashion brands’ manufacturing and their environmental and social impacts. Reading through some of the information, I already found out quite a lot about some of the brands I like. I'll definitely try to keep the things I read in mind the next time I go shopping, and keep my fingers crossed they'll keep on adding brands to the catalogue so I'll be able to make good decisions when buying clothes. And in the meantime, I will continue doing research into making my clothing purchases responsible and sustainable.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and how you go about shopping responsibly, so please comment below! :)


Audrey Hepburn: icon & inspiration

London has lots to offer when it comes to art and culture. Last week I went to see "Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon" in the National Portrait Gallery.

Audrey Hepburn is by far my favourite style icon. She was always dressed very elegantly and classy. In every day life she often wore pants paired with a simple black or breton striped tee, or a crisp white button down shirt. In a lot of her films she   was dressed in colourful and glamorous outfits designed by Hubert de Givenchy with whom she had a very special relationship. In fact, Audrey's style wasn't just fashionable when she lived, she really made her mark on fashion by creating wardrobe classics that are still stylish today. Some timeless classic pieces that will fit in any woman's wardrobe are the following:

The trenchcoat



The Little Black Dress

Annex - Hepburn, Audrey (Breakfast at Tiffany's)_02

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, Audrey Hepburn, 1961

Ballerina flats


But of course, Audrey wasn't only a fashion icon, but a film icon as well. She starred in lots of different films from comedies to literary dramas. My top 3 favourite Audrey Hepburn films are:

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany's

  2. My Fair Lady

  3. Funny Face

Later in her life Audrey became an active humanitarian. She served as Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations International Chidren's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), from 1988 until her death in January 1993. Audrey used her fame to raise awareness for UNICEF and the needs of children. She travelled to amongst others Ethiopia, the Sudan, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Somalia.

I think Audrey Hepburn isn't just inspiring when it comes to fashion, but also when it comes to the way she lived her life. She was very elegant and cared a lot about other people. She was also a positive person, as can be seen in the quotes below, and I think aspiring to be a bit like Audrey wouldn't hurt anyone.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!

The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

You can visit "Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon" at the National Portrait Gallery until the 18th of October.

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Polo in the Park
Last weekend I went to my first polo match ever. It was truly a fabulously British experience and I must say that polo is quite an interesting sport. I did a bit of research on its origin and rules and I thought I'd share what I found in this post as well as some tips for when you'll go to a polo match yourself.
Polo was invented a really long time ago (its establishment has been dated in the range of the 6th century BC to the 1st century AD) somewhere in Central Asia, most likely in Persia. From there it slowly spread through Asia and became a popular sport among royals and other rulers. Modern day polo evolved from a similar game that was played in India, called Manipur. It was taken up by the British Military who introduced the sport in England. The British then popularised polo and spread the game throughout the world.
The rules
Most of the time the polo traditions are followed, but the rules are sometimes changed to suit the circumstances better. At the Chestersons Polo in the Park I went to each team consisted of three players, instead of four which is normally the case. That way it was easier to follow what was going on. Just like in golf every player has a handicap. But, in polo, the higher the handicap the better, which range from -2 to 10. The team as a whole has a handicap as well, which is all individual players' handicaps added together. Polo matches are divided into different parts called 'chukkas'. During these periods players have to change pony, because a pony can't be used for more than two chukkas in one match. Goals are usually worth 1 point, but sometimes more points are awarded when a goal is scored from a far distance. A lot of other rules are based on the "line of the ball" which is the extended path along which the ball is traveling the field. This line enforces rules for players to approach the ball in a safe way to ensure the safety of both the players and ponies. Admittedly, it's very hard to keep track of the line of the ball when you're watching the game.
Good to know

  •  In polo horses aren't called horses but ponies, polo ponies. This term is purely tradional though, and the animals are actually fully grown with a height of in between 155 and 160 cm.

  • In between chukkas spectators are often asked to come onto the field and tread divots (bits of dirt and grass that are kicked up by the ponies during the game) back into the field. So if you're a woman, make sure not to wear pumps but rather wedges or ballerinas or you'll leave the field (and your shoes) in a worse state.

But don't worry too much about remembering all those rules. Everyone knows that going to the polo is more about people watching and drinking Pimm's anyway ;)

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Coffee cravings - London

A couple of years ago the UK was definitely not a coffee country. If you wanted a proper cup you really had to just drink tea or go to a coffee chain such as Starbucks, Costa or Cafe Nero. But a lot has changed since then. Especially in London. Of course, there's still a Starbucks on almost every street corner, but if you know where to look you'll find a lot of nice coffee bars that serve very good coffee. These are some of my favourite places which I found through The London Coffee Guide (2014) and by just wandering around.

Store St. EspressoThis coffee bar, which is around the corner of UCL, was my coffee haven during exam time. Store St. is a really nice light cafe with friendly staff. Perfect for a quick coffee to go as well as for catching up with a friend.


The AttendantThe Attendant is located in a former Victorian public lavatory, which might as well be the most original location for a coffee bar in all of London. It does sound a bit weird to have coffee in a place that people used as a loo, but it's actually not. The place is renovated in a very stylish way to make sure everyone enjoys their coffee and food to the fullest.

Monocle caféThis cafe is a spin-off from the Monocle magazine. Just like the magazine it's very polished and quite hipster chique. It's a small cafe so perfect for a quick coffee before you go and explore the shops of Marylebone or indulge yourself in the art at the Wallace Collection.


AppestatAppestat is a lovely cafe located in the Camden Passage in Islington. The owners are really friendly and I always find it a pleasure to go for a coffee there. Apart from coffee, they sell a range of artisan products such as cheese and charcuterie.

The Coffee Works ProjectNext to Appestat you can find the Coffee Works Project, which is always buzzing with life. The best thing about this cafe is the garden in the back, which, if the weather allows it, is a perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Look mum no hands!This is a coffee bar and bike shop in one, so you can have a coffee while you're waiting for your bike to be repaired. Look mum no hands! is a very colourful place, decorated with cool bike accessories. The coffee as well as the food is delicious.


Some other places I'd recommend are: Ginger & WhiteNude Espressoand Shoreditch GrindBut this is really just a small selection of the great coffee bars in London. I'm sure that in a months time I've already visited places I could add to my favourites list.

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Cycling in London
Just like most Dutch people, I love biking. For me it's the best way of transportation within a city. You don't have to wait for your bus or tram to arrive, you can leave whenever you want, which gives you a lot of freedom. But when I moved to London, I wasn't completely sure whether I would start biking or not. I'm used to biking in Amsterdam, where traffic can be just as busy as in London, but the big difference between those cities is that in Amsterdam cyclists are at the top of the traffic hierarchy, and in London they are absolutely not. Another big difference is that in Amsterdam, and actually in all of the Netherlands, everyone cycles. Students, children, the elderly, business people, even the prime minister cycles to work. Whereas in London the typical cyclist is somewhere between 20 and 50, rides a racing bike and wears special bike clothing. Lots of people wear a helmet, some put on a visibility jacket, and others go all the way and put on anything that is fluorescent yellow. Even shoes.

In London, cycling is not just seen as a means to get from A to B, but as a very serious sport. As I said a lot of people wear special cycling gear and some of them also cycle as if they are training for the Tour the France. Also bicycle racing seems to be quite a 'hip' sport and hobby in London. I've also seen quite some (hipster) cafes that, apart from food and drinks, sell cycling gear and sometimes even have a bike repair place in the back. And they are often decorated with bike accessories such as shirts of the Tour the France. I recently had lunch at one on Old Street called Look mum no hands. It's a really cool place, and the coffee and food are delicious!






I think London has great potential to become a real bike city, just like Amsterdam. Especially now the mayor, Boris Johnson (who's already got the public Boris (barclays) bicycles called after him), has confirmed that the city will get

segregated bike lanes and a cycling superhighway. But for now, I must say that biking in the UK's capital is a challenge and sometimes I feel like I need at least double the ears and eyes I have. Nevertheless, I'd recommend anyone to start biking, because if more people start to bike, other traffic just has to adapt and the city will ultimately become more bike-able :)

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