Friday, 29 March 2013


Here's a detail of a recently thrifted little black dress. I'm not a fan of traditional wardrobe staples (not everyone needs pencil skirts), but when it comes to party-wear, there's no denying that a cute black dress is a superb item to just throw on when it doubt. I got rid of a bunch of random dresses for special occasions that I never wore, and introduced a much-needed, catch-all solution. This sleeveless knee-length dress comes with a modest neckline and interesting cut-outs on the waist that bring a little sexiness to the mix. Now I need a party to go to!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Saturday thrifter

I wore this on Saturday. Chris and I teamed up with my mom to go thrifting in the town of Alajärvi. The compulsive shopping quiz results didn't bring me down, but I have to admit that I felt more aware of my shopping habits than usual as I was browsing through the clothing racks. Despite my weird scores, I still feel like I'm on the right track, but I guess it's never a bad thing to just stop and listen, to find confirmation that things are okay. 

I bought my first ever little black dress for myself (more on that later), and a few other things to take down to my sister's second hand shop in Helsinki. Have I written about Frida Marina? Yikes, I can't remember. It's an awesome shop and I am really proud of my sister. Every now and then I take some second hand treasures to be sold there, including pieces I've "saved" from the charity shops here in the countryside. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I just feel amazed that no one here wears or understands vintage, so I like to think of myself as a vintage clothing adoption agent of sorts. I pick up old, used stuff here, clean it and fix it  at home, and send it off to Frida Marina to find a new home. Those Helsinki hipsters - they know good stuff when they see it!

Everything I am wearing is second hand, except for the tights. (Oops, I forgot to wear shoes again.)

Friday, 22 March 2013

A Compulsive Buyer? Who, Me?

Jess of Empty Emptor found a cool website that focuses on people's spending habits and the relationships between shopping and happiness. Registered users can participate in all sorts of online tests and quizes to check how they consume, how materialistic they are etc. I took a test regarding compulsive and impulsive shopping, and guess what? After all the sweat and tears I've shed over learning to be smarter with my shopping, my test scores suggest that I might suffer from a form of obsessive-compulsive (OCD) shopping with severe impulse control disorder (ICD) tendencies. It seems that I am still just as clueless about shopping as I was when I first started learning to shop smart.

Looking at my test scores (I scored 3.0 on the OCD scale, compared to 2.2 average for females, and a whopping 7.0 on the ICD scale, compared to 3.6 average for females), my first reaction was that the test must be wrong. I thought that I'd be way below the average, especially on the OCD scale. See, I like to think that I've come a long way. I no longer buy random stuff online, I've pretty much abandoned buying anything new. I buy good-quality clothes that have something special about them. I no longer buy stuff "just because" or to make myself feel better. So here's what I was thinking: the test must have been drafted in such a way that it skews the facts. I feel pretty good about my shopping these days, and here's this test, telling me that I might suffer from pretty intense behavioral problems that could be categorized as an anxiety disorder. A compulsive buyer buys things because  he/she is too preoccupied with the act of buying. An impulsive buyer buys things without planning it beforehand. The test says I'm it.

Yikes. It's time for The Waves to look in the mirror. And here's what I see:

I am okay with admitting that I am an impulsive buyer. I buy almost all of my clothes second hand, and the aspect of the treasure hunt in thrifting is pretty much the reason why I tend to buy things impulsively. You just never know what you might find, and there are times when one might not realize that one needs that perfectly cut suede pencil skirt before one sees it on the rack at the thrift store. I try to thrift with a plan or a purpose, but it's tough sometimes. One might need a pair of black trousers, but finds a gorgeous 1950s floral dress instead. A  thrifter will not leave the dress behind just because she needs the trousers. She will buy the dress and make it work, because it would be a shame to not jump on such a wonderful opportunity. She might even buy the dress for a friend, or a sister, because the dress deserves to be "saved". I admit to giving myself that type of leeway while thrifting. I'll even go beyond that and admit that because thrifting is cheap and a lot of fun, I have more clothes than I need. Overall, I still have less clothes than I used to own, and I still do my very best to get rid of one thing if I buy another. But I do like my revolving-door wardrobe, I do. The truth is, then, that I am an impulsive buyer. I buy clothes without planning in advance. But is it a problem? Is impulsive buying automatically a bad thing? When it comes to thrifting, you pretty much have to be impulsive. You snooze, you lose. I'm going to go ahead and say that yes, I am an impulsive buyer - but only when it comes to clothing. I can accept that. It's just the name of the game if you are a thrift shop enthusiast.

The aspect of obsessive-compulsive buying is a tougher one for me. No matter how much I'd like to be able to trust the test score and the findings that come from it, I just... can't. I can't be more OCD about buying than most women! I don't feel like I shop compulsively, not anymore. There are plenty of times when I could buy things, times when I am tempted to buy something crazy, and I truly keep myself in check these days. I no longer get a rush from handing over the money like I used to. I can leave a charity shop without buying anything - I rarely do, but I can. My rush comes from really liking the clothes I buy and from wearing them, not from throwing money at the cashier. So I don't know what to think. And then it hits me: am I just like a junkie, who says that she could stop anytime? I think of the Great American Apparel Diet from two years ago, and yeah, we all remember how long I lasted before I started coming up with all sorts of excuses to buy clothes. Or the twelve allowed items of clothing last year - it took me about 6 months to reach the number, and the rest of the year was all trousers and sweaters and other warm clothes piling up. Yes, I've gotten rid of a huge amount of clothes in the last year or so, and yes, my closets are less crammed than they once were. I like my clothes much more than I used to, because I buy better clothes. But am I just denying the fact that I still have a problem? Am I learning to shop smarter so that I can keep telling myself that I don't have a problem, so that I can just keep shopping and spinning that revolving door?

Well, if I am perfectly honest, the answer is probably yes. I don't believe in a "ready" wardrobe, and I don't see myself deciding to stop thrifting. No way. I might be better at controlling the number of pieces in my wardrobe these days, but I still like to change things up, to get rid of one thing and buy another. I like to have pretty clothes, and I like to have new (new to me, anyway) clothes every once in a while. My style has started to set in and find its elements, but I still like to experiment with a new piece here and there. I like the revolving door, because that's who I am.

A long time ago I had a conversation with a friend about personality. My friend felt that people's personalities were fixed in place, that one's personality must be clearly definable. Someone fickle and restless, someone not sure about his or her values or beliefs, my friend thought, had no real personality. Those types of people couldn't really exist at all, because they didn't fulfill their part of being a real human being. I remember sitting in my friend's car, on the passenger seat, feeling a huge lump sit on the bottom of my stomach. I had no religion, I felt unsure about what life was all about, I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up. My opinions felt, at times, like warm clay - easy to mold, tough to grasp. I felt like I was open to the world - nothing more, nothing less. I had no personality, my friend told me. "But this is who I am", I said. "I am fickle and uncertain, and I like change. I like myself the way I am, analytical and prone to asking questions rather than providing others with answers. That is my personality."  My friend shook his head in disbelief. We drove for a long time, not speaking. It was obvious that there was an enormous chasm between us, one that would later become continents-and-oceans wide, lives apart.

I tell you this story because...

... yeah, whaddayagonnado. I am who I am. Just shoot me. 

I'm just going to take comfort in the fact that the online test doesn't give you a score analysis - just a comparison with the other participants. Maybe the others were lying.

Loving now

I've lost my heart to cropped wide-leg high-rise trousers. I'm obsessed - OBSESSED!

Picture: Chloe AW2013,

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Made in Kokkola

The town of Kokkola is located in the Western coastal area of Finland, about 60 miles from where we live. It used to have a successful clothing manufacturing industry. The most noted type of fashion to come from the town was coats and leatherwear. That fact can be easily proven just by looking at the offerings of the flea markets and charity stores in this area. The local thrift shops are full of awesome vintage outerwear labeled "Made in Kokkola, Finland". And that label means some serious quality.

Thrift shops and flea markets in Helsinki and in other larger towns are mostly void of treasures these days. Charity shops are drowning in last season's H&M, Zara and other cheap fast-fashion crap. Not here. In my neck of the woods flea markets and charity shops have amazing selections of old Finnish-made clothing, including vintage Marimekko and Vuokko, just to name a few more well-known Finnish clothing brands. But the dark horse of the race is anything that has that "Made in Kokkola"-label. And it's everywhere here. The  Kokkola clothes - coats, jackets, skirts, trousers, you name it - are, and I can't stress this enough, of superb quality. The materials are exquisite, the cut flawless. They are available for pennies, because no one here really "gets" vintage.

The brown suede jacket above is by an old Kokkola leatherwear brand, Hagström. The price on the jacket was 3 euros.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Where to pose

I'm having trouble figuring out where to take my outfit pictures in the new house. There is plenty of space and plenty of light, but for whatever reason my pictures seem to turn out blurry - I am sorry about that! It might be the time to read that camera instruction booklet, perhaps.

I wore this to the office yesterday: a black blazer, a flower print blouse and gray wool trousers. I need to start including my footwear in the pictures, too. Next time, next time! With this ensemble, I wore a pair of black lace-up shoes at the office, and black winter lace-up boots outdoors. It's kind of annoying to have to change shoes at work, but oh well, that's winter. There's no way I'm letting my poor toes roast in winter boots 8 hours a day, and I guess it's not that big of a deal to have to keep a couple of pairs of indoor shoes in the bottom drawer of ones desk!

The dress next to me is a recent flea market treasure. I couldn't resist the colour and the pattern - everything about the dress just screamed "spring is around the corner!" to me. I'll have to write a post about the countryside flea markets at some point. I have a lot to say about the topic!

Monday, 18 March 2013

When the coat fits

Christian Dior:

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Waves tackles officewear, Part I - Blazer & Pencil skirt

Let's face the facts: the traditional women's officewear uniform sucks. The plain, boring skirt suit robs us of our personalities, and it makes us look like machines that match the ideology of "the working woman". The message is to look proper, efficient and asexual. The employer tells you to look the part - so what's a girl to do?

My solution to the problem comes in two parts. First, pick pieces that shout officewear in structure. Don't run from the actual pieces of clothing you are expected to wear. Embrace the blazer-and-pencil skirt combo, because you'll never feel out of place, as long as you find a fit that you are comfortable with. There's security in that. Second, find freedom in colours and textures, and avoid anything too matchy-matchy like the plague.  Mix and match like there's no tomorrow. I guarantee it: you'll always look office appropriate, but never boring. 

I team my floral brocade blazer with a black velvet pencil skirt and a subtle print blouse. The combination is unexpected, super feminine and colourful, but - and this is the best part - it's totally office appropriate. People in the break room might go for a second take on what you're wearing, but no one will tell you it's not suitable for work.

For the days when I feel like wearing something a little tougher, my go-to blazer-and-skirt outfit includes a slim-cut men's shirt, a black boxy blazer and a brown suede skirt. The texture of the skirt breaks the mold  of traditional officewear subtly but powerfully. The whole ensemble is a somewhat trendy mix of menswear and womenswear, and again, it's completely office appropriate. The look changes entirely depending on  my choice of footwear, too.

All the clothes are second hand.

Friday, 15 March 2013

At home, 600th post!

It occurred to me that I really haven't taken all that many pictures of our house since we moved in. One reason might be the massive amount of moving boxes and random piles of who-knows-what that are still all over the house. Here's Illusia, on this very, very worn (but pretty!) rug that my brother gave us.

 And more cats. Happy cats, enjoying the heat of the big brick oven in our open kitchen. The top of the oven is the place to be. Here's Masa:

And here are Illusia and Audrey. The cats have been getting along okay-ish. Audrey chases poor Masa around, and there are occasional hissing fits and such. No one has been injured though.

Here's a glimpse at the upstairs.

Needless to say, our taste in interior design is... colourful!

Let's address the fact that this is the 600th post I've written on No Signposts in the Sea. 600th, people! That's something! No need for pomp and circumstance, I guess I'll just say "yay!" and thank all of my lovely readers for having stuck with me through the years of randomness. Thank you all! Here's to 600 more!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Some goodies

I bought a pair of pretty, practical and warm boots for fun, and a simple leather bag for work.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Hi, I'm home!

In case you didn't notice, I was away - again. I don't think it's fair to even call my blogging "sporadic" at this point. It's just plain nowhere-to-be-seen! For way too long, I was stuck in the cabin-life-rut which really weighed heavily on me, say, from November to late January. Then we moved, and my Blogger passwords stopped working. It ended up being a problem with my overly-enthusiastic internet security, but for a while there I was convinced that I'd never see No Signposts again. Anyway, here I am, alive and well! I've missed you!

It's been moving madness in our neck of the woods for weeks and weeks now - cardboard boxes everywhere, not enough furniture, no curtains, stuff everywhere, just general craziness. But we're home, and that's a big deal for us and the kitties. We are all well.

A couple of weeks ago I started a new job. I saw an ad in the paper about a month ago, and I decided to give it a shot, being absolutely convinced that there was no way they'd hire me... and two weeks later, there I was, sitting in my new office, working from 8 to 4. As you might imagine, it's all been quite a change - from our old life in New York, from the no-running-water-life in the cabins. It all happened so fast.

My new line of work has forced me to move heavily away from my sweatpants-and-thermal-gear-only cabin wardrobe that I sported for months on end. My new work environment doesn't require corporate gear, but jeans are pretty much out of the question. It's taken me a fair amount of time and energy to get back to dressing... well... not like a lumberjack. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing half of the time! 

But it's fun. It's fun to get dressed in the mornings now - when I get out of bed to a warm, comfortable home rather than to a drafty shack. I've had plenty of energy to think about what to wear or what would look office appropriate but still me. I stick out like a sore thumb at my workplace, though - almost all of my co-workers are much, much older and they dress in a very... conservative fashion. But they are nice people, and they don't seem to mind me mixing florals, paisley and pinstripes. 

So that's what's going on in my end. The sun rises so much earlier now than it did in the endless night that is the Finnish winter.

We got plenty of snow last night and it's bloody freezing, but spring is around the corner. It must be, right?