Category: Love

Merino Wool Capsule Wardrobe


Long ago, I wished to put my hand into my closet (or in this case) a drawer and pull out any item of clothing, have it fit me perfectly, and be able to easily care for it on a daily basis…meaning, I’d rotatingly wear more than 80 percent of my clothing all of the time.

Where did I get my inspiration? Well, when I was in my early 20s, I saw a slim, young African-American woman exiting the movie theater on a summer’s day wearing what appeared to be a grey wool skirt and top. She even had what looked like a feather in her hair. The idea of “wool” remained in my head until I could find more of a sustainable (and cruelty-free/recycled) method to procure it…

In more recent research, I learned that the old sages used to meditate on sheepskin, as the wool helped with Earth’s electromagnetic currents. Design-wise, I looked to Einstein (he owned only a number of the same suits to become more decision-making-free), Sai Baba (he wore the same orange dress with three gold buttons), Steve Jobs (same Issey Miyake mock turtle necks day after day) and Hubert Givenchy (Audrey Hepburn classics), Bonnie Cashin (simplicity), and Mother Nature, not to mention, a little Ghandi (minimalist with purpose).

The result would be that I’d have more time to write, arrange, rehearse, and perform affirmative music and have leisure time to meditate, do yoga, take walks, travel, cook, illustrate, and run a side business and charitable foundation, help take care of the household, and maintain a healthy relationship with someone I was compatible. (And even handsew him a couple of merino wool t-shirts…less laundry and easier nature travel!)

I hope to inspire you to to find clothing that best fits you and that you take the time to take care of yourself (in my case, exercise is lifting 30lb dumbbells with safe/correct form every other day, daily morning yoga, hiking in nature or in city streets, and eating a sugar-free whole foods plant-based vegan diet.)

The above selection is mostly hand-sewn, and created from recycled merino wool, and due to merino wool’s properties, it’s long-lasting, bacteria-free, fungus-free, mold-free, parasite-free, sweaterpill-free and it can be quickly hand-washed and dried in the shade in less than a day. Long ago, swimsuits were created from merino wool, so you can even soak the wool, go on a long hike and still stay cool in summer weather. If the wool is a darker color, it will appear dry.

To design and sew, I take the best shapes and attributes of store-bought clothing (or just sew of that which intuitively comes to mind), place that clothing under the wool fabric, and cut. I use regular needles and 100 percent cotton thread. Since wool fabric edges tend to curl, hemming is delightfully optional.

To sew, I do not use pins, instead I draw a line for seam allowance (about a quarter-inch) and another line for where the the fabric edge will be. On the seam allowance line, I use a straight basting stitch, all the way across. When this is finished, I try the garment on. If it fits, I cut the other line (the new fabric edge) then I go on to sew a narrow blanket stitch all the way across. And then a narrower straight stitch onto of the basting stitch (the blanket stitch and the last straight stitch can be done in any order). In the end, you will have a 3-layered stitch.

Do I have more clothing than this? I have a Patagonia jacket, and I just ordered some Havaiaanas. I also have a pair of lightweight running shoes and a pair of gladiator-style flats…and of course I own three pairs of my own hoop earrings (sizes petite to medium, and on different occasions, I wear all three on hikes and to bed) and three rings. Sometimes, I’m offered more clothing and so maybe the above drawing is subject to change.

My wardrobe type isn’t for everyone, but it did take me time to figure out how to purchase clothing my size (I’m 5 ft tall, less than 95lbs) — kids clothing — figure out my favorite simple style for women’s clothing (meaning that I did purchase other store-bought clothing), and hack the men’s used merino wool selection for fabric.

The upside of this is that the wool is biodegradable, and any remnants is safe for the Earth and/or used to fill my hand-sewn merino wool pillows/cushions. It’s sustainable, requires less water, electricity, human energy and time, and my small carbon footprint leaves more room for others on the planet.

Like my music, my ideas are Divinely inspired…and I hope it inspires you to look inward on a regular basis, realize there’s only one of you…to take good care of, and are guided towards Nature’ elegant simplicity.

Venmo: @helen-marien

PayPal: piarei@piarei.com

The Winner is…

Earth-friendly earrings and artwork for Maui Arts and Cultural Center

Congratulations to Joann B. of PA who is the winner of our blog’s Valentine’s Celebration. Both she and MACC receive a handcrafted pair of Dainty Earth-friendly sterling earrings!

From now until Valentine’s Day, for every Helenbobelen.com purchase, a pair of Sterling Silver Thinnest And Strongest Thin Hoop Earrings in Dainty will be donated to a charity benefitting children, animals, or the environment.