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Wear Your History On Your Sleeve: 10 Ways to Bring Real Meaning to Your Wardrobe

Michael Cepress is an artist and fashion designer based in Seattle, Washington. His eponymous label is going strong and aiming to launch its first complete men’s and women’s collections in 2013. Today is the last day of his Kickstarter campaign, and he would like for you to reserve some items from his new collection when you back his project.

1. Ditch the Big “Box Stores.”

The likes of GAP, Old Navy, H&M have done a fine job of flooding our culture with more cheaply made, corporate-driven junk than we need. For every ten-million tees and tanks from these stores there are a thousand amazing vintage pieces with true character at your local second hand store or a gem from a local designer with more soul than you’ve ever felt in a garment. Vote with your dollars: keep it local and keep your personal style as unique as you.

2. Consider Costs Per Wear.

Milinaire and Troy’s 1975 Style Guide “Cheap Chic” got it right: Buy something based on “Costs per Wear”. What’s the difference between wearing that new $800 coat 800 times and wearing that $800 dress only once? Do the math, weight your options, and move forward knowing you’re not just buying but investing in your look.

3. Celebrate Your Family Jewels.

Nothing carries more love and resonance than a treasured family heirloom. Skip over the dollar-store bangles and clearance rack pendant and opt to wear grandma’s pearls or grandpa’s watch. You’ll carry them with you everywhere you go and be guaranteed that no one in the room will be wearing the same thing you are.

4. The European Ethos.

What’s the secret to that smart, effortless Parisian look you ask? The answer is this: Let go of the unreasonable (and very American) insistence that we must look different every day. Let a small stable of high-quality, well-designed staple pieces lead the charge with your style. Wear them often, take good care of them, and let them become the most solid foundation for your style.

5. Food and Fashion.

The Slow Food Movement is going strong and has come to mean so much to thoughtful eaters. Let’s do the same with fashion. Slow down, search for pieces that are made with local ingredients and by local designers. It all feels better when it is from your own back yard.

6. Needle and Thread to Bed.

Are you aching for that sense of fulfillment you only remember from decades ago when you actually let yourself play, relax and create? Give yourself permission to pick it up again! A few hours of embroidery or mending or knitting or beading or tatting or crochet before bed every night could not only yield a potential masterpiece but also help you sleep like a baby knowing that those beautiful hands of yours still work and help you feel great.

7. Meet Your Local Tastemakers.

Here’s your homework, and it is simple: Every time you see someone out and about on the street looking great, stop them and tell them what you like about their look. A great conversation will likely ensue, and with every handshake and smile comes renewed assurance that daring style matters and makes our world more beautiful.

8. Swap, Don’t Shop!

Tired of wearing the same old thing? Skip the bus trip downtown and instead host a Potluck Clothing Swap with friends. Round up your favorite folks and have them bring their tired wardrobe and a dish to pass. Full bellies and some imagination can breathe new life into every garment in the room!

9. Let Your Bloodline be Your Style Guide.

Dip into your family history and ethnic background to learn more about who you are and where you come from….and show that in how you dress. Decades-old family photos or a trip to your city’s Polish Community Center might shed brilliant light on you, your people, and how they celebrate their special selves through clothing.

10. Lighten Up!

Its just clothes, after all, so have a little fun with it! Wear something weird, a little odd, a little daring or a little sexy. Don’t be afraid to turn a few heads and make folks ask a few questions. It’s good for them and its good for you!

The video for his Kickstarter project is below.

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