Ashley: Thank you so much for joining us on Filled up Cup today. My guest is Jen Pistor. She is a sustainable, slow fashion stylist. She’s a body positive model and a local blogger to Vancouver, British Columbia. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jen: Thank you so much for having me.

A: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with modeling?

J: Yeah. I was actually only 10 years old when I got my start in modeling. I’m originally from Saskatchewan and my mum was involved in the industry locally and I begged her to let me get into it. It just seemed so fun. It was. I mean, at 10 years old, it was just all about playing dress up to me. So eventually I wore her down and she allowed me to start and it was so fun. It was, you know, modeling at the mall and local fashion shows. It was doing photo shoots for the local newspaper. And then when I got older- to the, you know, ripe old age of 16 and 17, I really wanted to really pursue it more as an option and ended up going to New York when I was 16 in the summertime.

A: That must have been such a culture shock to you once in New York.

J: It was huge. It was huge. I went for just a couple of weeks. My mom was with me and I was with a group of other models as well. We went to a huge international convention and competition there. It was, yes, it was very big eye opener.You all of a sudden felt like, wow, I’m one of so many people, so many girls who are looking to do the same thing. So it was a really great experience. I still had my grade 12 year of high school to do, so came back, did that. Went back to New York the next year. So there’s a lot of competitions I did really well in; placed in one, in many of my categories. I had the opportunity to meet with tons of agencies. They do something called a “go see day”, which is what it sounds like, where you go, see and talk to those different agencies. And I had a lot of interest.

A: That must have been so exciting.

Modeling, My Experiences

J: It was beyond. It felt very exciting and surreal. And I think at 17 you have this idea of what it’s gonna look like. But the thing I kept getting told was, oh, we love your look. You’re just what we’re looking for but we’d love you to lose just a couple more inches, a few more pounds. Cause what had happened in that year, between the first year I went to New York and the second year I went to New York was Kate Moss became the big thing on the fashion scene and what was an acceptable body weight. The year prior, all of a sudden I was, you know, a bigger model. I don’t know. I think I was a size six at the time, and they wanted me to lose weight. So after I graduated from high school, I started dieting and exercising like two hours a day, every day. I was eating less than a thousand calories a day. If I had a stick of gum, I would track those calories and it was really taking a toll on me mentally. I was just physically tired. I was drained and my parents could see that I was really starting to just be all consumed by this idea of weight loss and modeling. And this is what I have to do to make it. And they actually took me to speak to someone who worked as a nutritionist and worked in the fitness space. It was like all the things my parents had told me because they’re my parents. When you’re 17, I’m like wow you don’t know what you’re talking about. But all of a sudden it was somebody who was a professional in their field and he talked some sense into me. And once he really painted the big picture of what life could look like for me, long-term I decided to really snap out of that cycle that I was in, with constant dieting and excessive exercise. I think at my thinnest, I was about 118 pounds. I’m five foot seven. I had 37 inch hips and the agency that I was dealing with overseas, they said that’s great. You’re doing wonderful. Just keep going. We just need to get you to lose that one more inch. And I politely declined their offer and decided I would no longer be pursuing their agency. And that was the best decision I could have made. Actually at that point, I just said, you know what? I think I need to reevaluate what I want to do with my life and I took a year off of modeling. I did no modeling at all and went on my own little adventures and did things and some traveling and things that, you know, it was 18. And when I got back to Regina and I had got back into doing some local modeling. Which then actually took me into meeting someone who liked me just the way I was, wanted to hire me to do hair modeling for her, which I didn’t even know was a thing. And yeah, it was a whole new world. It was, I had no clue what this was. And so I thought, okay sure, let’s try this out. And it was amazing. I never had to diet, there was no pressure put on me whatsoever and I got to travel. We got to go to Europe, we got to go to these international competitions and it was amazing. I did that with her for a few years until I moved to Vancouver to go to school for fashion. Then I just sort of dabbled in it throughout the years from then on. So I was then in my early twenties all the way up until, well, basically until the pandemic hit, I was still modeling. So it’s been a long, long, 30 years, but that’s it in a nutshell, I guess.

Jenn Pistor

A: It must have been so devastating in the moment to be constantly picked apart and told, okay if it’s you know, a couple more pounds, now it could be, you know, gaining 10 pounds a week from now on and losing it.  It’s a constant state of up and down that I just think would be so devastating and so hard. Especially when we’re younger, we have such an idea of this is how everything’s going to work out and it’s going to be, and to have that not be the case in the moment. It must’ve just felt like your whole world was sort of disappearing.

J: Absolutely. It was. It was such a rollercoaster ride because you would go even within, let’s say that one day in New York, when I was going to all these multiple agencies. Cause when you would talk to let’s say 20 different modeling agencies from all over the world. I’d go to one and I had somebody tell me my eyebrows were too far apart. I think you could just pencil that in, but okay. Sure. If that’s your thing that, you know. I went to another agency and they told me my nose was too small and would I ever consider getting my nose done to make it bigger? I said, nope, that is nothing I will do because this nose is my mom’s nose and it is my grandmother’s nose and it is who I am. So no, I will not be doing that. It was, you know, it was wild. It was wild. Would you get implants? How much weight do you think you can lose? And I was 17 years old being the way I look. Yeah. I mean, you’re being praised. You’d go to one and you were the most beautiful, amazing, gorgeous person they’d ever seen. Then you’d go to the next person and they’re just ripping you apart and you’re going, okay, wait a second. So am I pretty, or am I not pretty?  What’s the deal?

A: It really shines a light and makes sense for say the people that were child stars and you kind of look and see that they potentially are struggling or went down a different path now.  It really does make sense when they’re told, you know, at say even at 10, when you started being told certain things that tend to 16, 17, because especially as a woman, that’s such a sensitive time when you’re growing and your body’s just naturally changing as it is, separate from trying to make it a profession. And it is really funny because I think it started when my daughter started kindergarten. She’s going to be 15 this year, but they really don’t listen to you in the same way.  I would read her nursery rhymes and things like that and she’d go to kindergarten. She’d be like, this teacher just told me, “Baa, baa black Sheep”, like this is the coolest thing. I’ve been reading it to you for five years. No, when this Ms.Hudson does it. So I do think it’s one of those things that we can, you know, tell our children, or even tell our younger selves things. And it really doesn’t click until somebody else does. So good for you for listening to the nutritionist and being able to actually take that information and absorb it and potentially a great skill that he gave you for your own children. So that when you’re telling him a billion things, and they’re not listening that at least you have the patience of knowing. It’s not me. It’s them.

J: Yes and it usually is.

Getting Into Sustainable Brands

A: So jumping to the last few years, were you finding that you were just doing modeling sort of for all local brands or was it that you were kind of gearing yourself towards slow, sustainable fashion brands?

J: I was definitely. It was funny because I had been very, very casually modeling over the last little while.  It was mostly for a couple local fashion shows for charity that I had done through my blog that I had had for some time, but hadn’t really been doing it that intentionally or full on. I guess it would be about four years ago now, a local Vancouver sustainable brand free label. The owner, Jess had reached out to me and on Instagram and said, you know, I would love it if you would come and model for us. And I remember it was so funny because here I was, I think I was 38 or whatever I was at the time, a mom of three and all these like insecurities came flooding back. I thought, oh my gosh, like, do they know what I look like? Is she aware that I have like a squishy mummy tummy now? Like, does she know I’m not that thin? And I actually replied with all of those questions. Are you aware of what you’re asking is? She’s said, yes, yes I do. I love all of it. I am loving everything as is. And so very nervously I said, yes. I went to the photo shoot and it was such an amazing experience. I left there just feeling like rejuvenated. It was just this amazing feeling where I got to get back into something I loved with this completely different body than I’d ever really modeled in this way before and was completely accepted as is. It felt like a new concept, even though I had experienced that as a younger person, experiencing it as an almost 40 year old woman, like I said, who had gained a lot of weight. My body had changed dramatically. Obviously we don’t have the same bodies at 40 as we do at 17. So it was, it was really cool. And what ended up happening, I think, because of the space that I was on online with social media and my blog and talking about sustainable brands, it was just sort of this automatic thing where I had obviously put something out into the universe and the universe was like, oh, hey, we see you. And it was these ethical, local, sustainable women owned black owned businesses that started reaching out to me. And I was like, okay, this is really cool because these are the type of clothes that I’m very passionate about, and these are the brands that I’m getting to model for.  It did become very specific  to this one category of clothing and so I felt this ease when I was modeling, because this was something I was not just modeling and getting paid to do for work, but these were clothes that I believed in as well, which made just the whole experience come full circle. And then I wanted to share and talk about it on social media. So it just all felt very organic to me, the way it all came about.

A: That’s really the best way of  when you’re going to work and you’re getting to do the stuff that you love when it is something that inspires you and you fully support versus just doing it for the pay cheque. Which, you know, from time to time, everybody kind of has to do. But when it’s really the sheer, joyful excitement of it, it just really is so special.  It’s such a lucky, meant to be thing.  It is one of those things, when we ask for the things that we want, whether it’s sort of that we’re aware of it, or we kind of do it subconsciously with just talking about on Instagram, where you are really great about sharing sustainable brands or being authentically yourself, that it becomes like this magnet thing. It all sort of works out the way that it’s supposed to and it’s always so great to see.

J: It just feels so organic that way and nothing feels forced. I never felt like I had to fake it at any point in time. It just felt really natural.

A: Which is always kind of nice because I think sometimes when brands either from the marketing side are faking it, or when people, you can tell that they don’t want to be there. It’s not super easy to hide. I think we even see sort of the, faking it a little bit with brands and marketing and the body positive movement just in general.  I really would love to say that it is something that our mindset is shifting. If I see an ad, I really do want to see somebody that has a similar body type to mine. You know, I don’t want to see a Kate Moss body type anymore when realistically Kate Moss probably didn’t look like Kate Moss did in the nineties. There are so many different Photoshops and apps.  I think on that end of things, things have only continued to get worse, even filters the majority of time, you don’t know whether you’re looking at a real person or their CGI version of themselves that they’re presenting.

J: Absolutely.

A: Have you found, in your experience working with with brands, PR and fashion, that it really is the shift in mindset, or do you think that it’s a  performative act- the body positive thing a little bit for brands?

J: So I would say my personal experience, I’ve been very fortunate because I have been working with these local, ethical, sustainable brands. I would say they’re the ones who are really are pushing the change. I do believe it comes from an authentic place because I see the people who they have working for them. I see the people that they are and there is sort of this intimate relationship that happens because I see them and talk to them and I’ve met them and I know them.  It’s so different than this faceless corporation who, you know, nothing about and their PR person that reaches out to you and they send you a pitch and you know, it’s all just a contract. I have a very personal relationship with a lot of these brands I work with. So I would say on that side of things, those brands they understand the assignment, you know. They actually want to see the change and they themselves are taking the actions necessary and not just who they’re putting in front of the camera, but who’s behind the camera. Who’s working with them. They pay their workers and they understand who they’re defining for very much. I would say for the bigger guys, it’s a different story. It still feels very performative to me because they don’t tick enough boxes. There still is this sort of lip service of let’s look at what we’re doing. We’re doing all these amazing things and look, we’ve got different ethnicities and different genders and look how inclusive we are. This body is, you know,  a size 14 so that makes us super inclusive. They’re really missing the mark on a lot of levels because when you start asking any kind of questions, you know, behind the scenes with a lot of them,  well, who do you have working for you? What does your office look like? You know, there isn’t much transparency there still. So it’s really hard to know if you’re buying into an image or if you’re buying into a real culture within their brand.

What Should Inclusive Sizing Be?

A: Yeah. I definitely can see that with the larger brands I find it’s sort of funny because they’ll be like, oh, we have inclusive sizing. Yeah. on your website Not where with like a normal body, could go into your store and try it on.

J: Yes.

A: I think Amy Schumer had like a funny, sort of bit about it, where she was looking for a t-shirt in a store and they were like, can you stop touching our clothes?  You can go into our back room and it’s like they put her out into a field to pasture. But it really is like if you’re anything above an extra large and again, an extra large in six different companies could be completely different in that. It would be nice to be able to, you know, pandemic aside, be able to go into a store and try on all the clothes and see how the outfits look.

J: Yes.

A: You know, not just have to order something and then feel awkward about returning it or the whole process potentially with online shopping that could be. It also creates non-sustainable fashion in the sense that you’re ordering from online, you don’t know where it shipping from. It’s like the pollution that will take for it to get to you only to turn around and have to send it back, becomes this whole other thing. I know personally for me and my ADHD brain, the idea of sending things back by a specific date never, ever happened. So then  the clothes that I don’t really necessarily want piled up into my room only to turn around and donate them.

J: Totally and yeah, it’s such a difficult thing. I mean, even with boutiques, you know I’m a small business. Advocate.  I love my small businesses and small shops and even with them, sometimes it gets very discouraging when you know, some local stores that you would love to shop in, go up to a size large. And if you take the opportunity to speak with them about that. What does it mean? What would it take for you guys to bring in some bigger sizes, some more inclusive sizing? And I often hear the replies, you know, we did try bringing in some plus sizes and it just didn’t sell. And to that, it’s like, yes, but what did you do to make it known and what were those items? Because if it was a pair of black pants, a black top and a black cardigan, and you shoved it on a rack at the back of the store, was it prominently displayed? Did you have the same variety that you do for your straight sized customers? Do you have a mannequin in your front window that is a plus sized mannequin? Do you have anybody who works in your store who’s plus sized? Do you know, have you worked with any influencers who are plus sized to promote this side of your business? So I get very frustrated when I hear that as the reply. Well, we tried it one time and nobody wanted it and it’s like, well, gee, I can’t imagine why they weren’t flocking to your store for like two offerings when I could go someplace else and get something that’s a better quality and better fit. I would have more variety to choose from. I think there’s still this idea that if you’re a plus sized person, that you want to completely cover your body, that you should be ashamed. If you have any kind of squish or fat or jiggle or cellulite or anything on your body.

A: A woman’s body that is 19 years old, generic. Yes.

J: And it’s where we come in. All shapes and sizes, and for those of us who still love fashion and style. And a lot of us do, we also have money to be spending on these clothes, but there is this sort of barrier that so many businesses put up where it’s like, they don’t want that customer.  I find that very discouraging and that’s why so many plus sized people do rely on this online model. And as you pointed out, it’s such a difficult thing too because like anybody you want to see. What fits me at a size 16 doesn’t fit somebody else who’s a size 16. We might be the same size but how we’re shaped is different. So it’s, it’s a huge challenge.

Why Say Plus Size At All?!

A: I find the plus-sized label is really frustrating. It’s like, can we just not call it this size and this size and this size. I find that the whole plus size idea is sort of removing this whole whack of people and sort of putting them in a back room or putting them in a separate section where it’s like we’re marginalizing people’s bodies and saying, okay, well all of our stuff that’s for normal size or straight size are in this section. Please come in and spend your money but hide in the back while you’re doing it.

J: Yes, absolutely.

A: We just have from like zero to the largest size that they could possibly create all on one rack.

J: Absolutely and the same styles. Yeah, you know, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel for a plus sized customer. I still want to wear the same things. Now what we choose to put on our bodies, that’s a personal choice with our personal style, our age, our comfort level, what we’re looking for. But the assumption can’t be that if you have a larger body that you automatically get put into this strange category of clothing that is sometimes offered and it’s sad. I’m like, why am I either a pinup girl or I’m frumpy?  There needs to be something in between there. I think that there are some brands that are starting to do that. I think that there is. Getting better but there still is a lot of work to go. And I know that there are a lot of people who want to support local, especially these last couple of years. That’s been a silver lining where people are really starting to go, okay, who could I be supporting locally? But then the local people, even though I know they’ve had their own struggles with supply and demand, shipments and things as well. And just, you know, their businesses being open. But there is this whole customer that they could be marketing to that they’re missing out on. You know, she still wants cool stuff and she still wants to dress just like her slimmer friends. So there’s so much opportunity there that’s just being missed.

A: And I do hope that brands do sort of consider that, especially with how many people and brands have had to pivot over the last two years and really look and see what’s working and what’s not working. I think it was really shocking to see. The supply across multiple industries of how it kind of just stopped and changed (because I think myself included). We weren’t really thinking about where either the garment, furniture or whatever was actually coming from. Yes, it was just, okay I’m going to go to my local either small shop or mall or whatever. And then it’s like, oh wait, there’s nothing here. Absolutely. I think it did make it so that we do want to not only support businesses that maybe were forced to struggle or didn’t get rent assistance from their leases but also we didn’t really want to have to wait six months for a t-shirt to be shipped from somewhere that it really was. We want things in the moment.

J: Yes and I think for me too, I noticed I don’t shop as much as I used to so there is that. But as somebody who’s really shifted the way I shop into this more sustainable ethical side of things, thrifting, second hand way of shopping. I never really experienced that myself when it came to any of my clothing purchases. No, it’s not Amazon fast when you shop with a slow fashion brand, but that’s okay. I don’t need something tomorrow but I found that by ordering from any of the local Canadian small brands that I shopped with, I got everything quickly. They were efficient. It all came because it wasn’t coming from some far off land. It wasn’t stuck on a shipping container. The container now isn’t at the bottom of the ocean. So as some are here locally, it’s a completely different experience. I remember even thinking around the holiday time when people were freaking out about do I need to buy backup presents on top of the presents that I already have and do I buy two of everything from different places and hope something gets here on time and I didn’t experience any of that. I shopped differently. You know some of my stuff came from a thrift store for my kids. Other things, you know, we just went and picked up in person locally and we just did it in a way that it were supporting as local as we could. Not everything because you know, little kids, they have hopes, dreams, and wishes of things that don’t come in curated wooden mushrooms to keep them happy. They like the big, annoying, obnoxious things as well. But we need to shift our mindset and the way we shop and I think you’re so right. I think the last two years, we were all really starting to understand. Oh, so even though I’m buying it from a local store, they’re still ordering that from a really far off place so I might not be able to get that right when I think I’ll be able to get that.

A: Maybe say like the Amazon or some of the, you know, less sustainable fashion brands. I think, especially when it comes to like holiday shopping that not that they’re tricking us necessarily, but there really is this push come October, shop early, shop fast. Well, what happens? I know for me personally, when I start shopping in the summertime or I start shopping in October that I’m still shopping by November and December because I’m like, this is still cute and now they might want this.

J: You buy twice as much.

A: Exactly. Yeah. So it really becomes not necessarily that there’s like delays in shipping but they really do want us to shop more and shop earlier and shop for longer. But I think it’s important to kind of, you know, realize where the messaging is coming for it so that we’re not kind of getting duped into giving Jeff Bezos all of our money.

J: Totally. I think one of the biggest cons of our time right now is that, you know, this idea of scarcity. Yeah, we’re running out of things. We don’t have enough this, there isn’t enough that, you know, and I do know with certain sectors, there are. I know somebody is trying to buy a new car or something like that right now. I know that those are bigger wait times and it’s something we’ve never really experienced before, but I think we’ve gone so far especially with, you know, our day-to-day items like clothing and toys and these kinds of things that we’ve gotten so used to. I want it now and I want to get it now and there is this idea of having to wait or slow down or think about it, or do I really need that? And making better, smarter choices is still a very foreign concept. And so they pitched us this idea of what you buy it now, or you or you’ll never be able to get it, or we only have a limited amount of these. So if you want it, get it now… until you come up with something else, like three weeks from now, and then that’ll be the next thing that I have to get right now. So this whole idea of scarcity, I mean, it’s an entire marketing tool and it’s no secret. Everybody wants the economy to be doing well. And so the economy, how we are set up in our society it does well if we’re all spending our money. So, there’s this real sense of urgency to like you said, shop now, get it now. It’s now or never. It’s just like, oh my gosh. And so we panic buy and we buy things out of this fear of going, oh my gosh, like I may never be able to find pants again. If I don’t buy this one pair when really the reality is there’ll be more pants just given a month and there’ll be a whole new collection of things that you’ll be able to shop from. You’re not really missing out on anything.

A: Definitely agree with that. And I think in some ways too, it’s like our phones or social media, the internet, or how technology has advanced that we are just getting so impatient. Yes. That it really is like we have like a 30 second attention span. And so yeah, when Amazon can get something to us in like eight to 12 hours and then when Canada post is taking two weeks, it’s like, oh my gosh, they’re the worst.

J: It’s true.  This is somebody riding in here by horse, like what is happening?

Fast Fashion Dooms The Good Brands

A: But it’s like, we’re kind of dooming these businesses by having these false ideas of when they should be here. Unless you have a wedding, a prom or some sort of special event, odds are that t-shirt can wait 10 days and you’re not going to combust without it.

J: Yes.

A: Was there something specific that made you think about slow and sustainable fashion?

J: It’s funny. No, when I went to so it was a hot minute ago when I did my fashion schooling. And it’s funny because it was so great. Because it was so encompassing. I felt at the time it really covered this broad overview of the whole industry from buying to designing to textiles and all of these things. And at that point in time. So when I went to school in 2001-2002, to my recollection, I don’t remember ever touching on sustainability talking about fair living wages, garment workers, or conditions. In fact, there was none of that dialogue. And so I worked for a long time in an industry that I didn’t know, the full scope of things. And I’d say as time went on you, you hear a little bit here and a little bit there and you kinda start to know things. At that point in time too, there were no smart phones, so we weren’t constantly getting all this kind of information. There wasn’t this sort of sharing of information yet. People didn’t typically sit home on a Friday night, Googling things and looking it up with their very slow internet. So we weren’t necessarily getting that kind of information all the time. And for me, it was a slow process. I’d say maybe over the past sixish years or so, where I really started to understand what slow fashion movement was about.  I ended up watching the documentary, “The True Cost” by Andrew Morgan and it was like this light bulb moment for me, where it just showed every part of the industry and the impact on people and the planet. I went, oh this is what I’ve been participating in very willingly. And, you know as they say, ignorance is bliss. It’s like, when you didn’t know it just felt like well I can just shop and buy whatever I want. And I was all about the like cheap and cheerful and, you buy something for $10 and my mentality would be well even if I only wear it once, it doesn’t matter. It was only 10 bucks who cares even if it falls apart, whatever it doesn’t matter. And that was a mentality I had had for so long. Right. More is more. I wanted to keep up with all the trends and then this whole mind set shifted. I started really deep diving into learning as much as I could about everything that had come up on this screen because I thought, oh my gosh, how have I been willingly participating in this? Not just from like a shopping and consumer side of it, but also I’ve been working in this industry and promoting things for as long as I can remember. I just was really oblivious to the full impact of this. That was a huge game changer for me. So it was funny because school continued my passion with fashion, but I felt like there was still a slightly, at that point in time, narrow scope of what we were being taught. Whereas I feel like I’ve learned so much more since then, on just really what’s behind all those doors as well of what it all encompasses.

A: And there’s a lot of closed doors on that. I remember when I was younger, probably in my teens, or maybe even less where people would talk about children making clothes in some of the third world countries. You hear it but you don’t really like it. It doesn’t hit you. I think as much of  the actual reality of  workers that are in unsafe places, not being paid fairly so that you could have a brand name top.  The more you know,  the more you should be doing and the more it should sort of allow your shift in perspective. So hopefully the more people that are aware of that, we do see an ongoing shift because I think it is also hard. It is only $10 or for the people that are on more of a budget. It is that I can only afford the $10. So it is really frustrating when these brands continue to sort of have those unethical, shady business practices and in countries that need them to be there in order to survive. All so that we can have a $10 shirt.

J: Yes, it’s true. It’s one of those things that the more and more I learn about it, there’s yet another layer and yet another layer. I’ll think I finally understand it. And then there’s another layer to it. I mean, now the new thing is ultra fast fashion, which I recently was learning about where I actually listened to a podcast. It was all about the rise of Shein and how it’s become this ultra fast fashion brand, where they’re not, you know, doing the catwalk to consumer, they’re doing Instagram to consumer now. So they’re taking something that somebody has worn on Instagram and they’re duplicating it and getting that out within days and then rapidly it’s being consumed and rapidly it’s being disposed of. And I know for myself, I’ve noticed in this last year or two arise of, Shein specifically in the thrift stores, when I’m out thrifting, I’ll see the label more and more there. And some of the things to have the tags on, they’re not even being worn. It’s an amazing thing to see this culture of just consume, consume, consume, maybe wear it once. Maybe you don’t, you get rid of it. You know, my guts turned when I see the haul videos of the usually younger women, you know, showing these like, oh my gosh, look at all these things I got for $700 and they do it for a video and they don’t keep those things. They’re getting rid of them and they’re not returning it. A lot of those returns are just getting burnt or sent to landfills. So, I mean, it’s literally being trashed the stuff afterwards and it’s heartbreaking to see.  I won’t go into the full conversation around all of this because it’s one of those subjects you can quite literally talk about for days, but it’s so difficult as a consumer right now because. There is, you know, the regular person is not going to deep dive into each brand that they are shopping from. We have so much going on in this world, especially these last couple of years, that is very difficult for most of us to just sit and do, well, what’s their transparency. Like where are they sourcing their cotton from? The average consumer isn’t doing that, right? So we have to hold the accountability to the higher up and all we can do as consumers is do our best to make good choices. And I mean really the best thing we can do is just whenever we do purchase something, wherever that is from, for a long time, many, many times over care for it. Well, launder it well, because we’re all in different places financially, and it’s not realistic to flip a switch and go from now on everything I buy will be from an ethical brand. I felt like I had a moment where I wanted to just get rid of everything in my closet. Once I had had this epiphany and start completely over and then I realized, well that wasn’t very ethical to do that either because I already had a whole wardrobe full of clothing that I should probably be wearing. So it is tough and I think it’s one of those things where we’re never going to completely achieve a completely sustainable wardrobe. But I think we all just can do little steps and as best we can vote with our dollars and as best we can. This is I’m speaking to myself, don’t shop as a pick me up. That’s one of my biggest things I’ve had to overcome is that like, oh, if I just got something new and pretty, I’d feel so much better right now.  I know for me, that’s always been my crutch for shopping and I’ve replaced fast fashion with secondhand stuff, but that’s not the best way either. Right. To just buy something because it’s pretty. It’ll make me feel good.

A: Yeah. We really have to look at why we’re not feeling good in the moment instead of shopping. But yes, I come from a long line of shopaholics so I get it. If we were having like a rough day or just if we haven’t gone shopping in a couple of days, but that would be the thing. I do think for some of those brands, like Shein (I’ve ordered them)… I also am a mom with like a squishy tummy and it is kind of demoralizing what their sizes are when you do put them on.

J: I’ve heard that.

A: Because they don’t, fit. I bought like a large bathing suit and it fit my niece who was a 16, 14 youth.

J: Oh my gosh.

A: It’s one of those things. They throw things together, whether it’s Shein or some of the other, like really fast fashion Insta brands. But they’ll throw things together so fast and then they don’t really fit on your body so that when you are shopping or deciding whether you were going to keep it or send it back that you just either won’t send it back or end up taking it to a thrift store or it ends up as straight in the garbage. Because if it doesn’t fit you or it’s sewed together really poorly, then really all you’ve done is buy something just to throw it out. I also think when it comes to thrift stores or maybe businesses that we think are thrift stores, or just big brands- return policies, I know I was reading about how they don’t necessarily take it back. They steam it and then send it to the next person that a lot of the times they are, you know, cutting holes so it can’t be donated and literally just throwing it in the garbage. So for me, that was really eye-opening because I don’t want to buy something if it didn’t fit my body. I would assume if I took it to a thrift store that potentially somebody else could benefit from it instead of literally just having an add to the garbage pile.

J: Yeah, absolutely. Again, this is where we go back to, as a plus sized shopper or larger body shopper, oftentimes when your only option is online. If you’re unsure of sizing because maybe this is a brand you haven’t worn before, you know, the encouragement is always, we’ll just get it shipped in a couple of sizes and return whatever doesn’t work for you. When the reality is when you do that, oftentimes that item is just being thrown out because their turnover is so quick that even if it’s being returned within a two week timeframe, I mean, that’s two weeks. Two-three weeks old now for their inventory and in a fast fashion world, that’s a whole cycle for them. That’s everything. They’ve had thousands and thousands of new pieces drop since then. So to them, there’s no benefit because now they’re going to have to discount it so cheap because it’s what they would consider to be old stock. So it costs them more to put it back out to resell than it does to just dispose of it, which is heartbreaking. But it’s like I said, this is where it’s so difficult as a consumer because if you’re not being offered these options in person then what do you do, right? It’s so tough.

A: Now, if somebody was trying to sort of dip their toe in and learn more about sustainable or slow fashion, you did mention a documentary. Are there any other resources where you would say this is a great tool, or this is a great website to try to take in more of that information?

True Cost Of The Textile Industry

J: Yes. Yeah, so the, the true cost documentary, as I mentioned, I definitely recommend it. He had nothing to do with the fashion industry, the documentary maker, but it was something he had learned about, and he just felt like people needed to see it. It’ll shock you a little bit, and you’ll feel really bad about yourself for a little while, and then you’ll get over that and you realize, okay, I can move forward and just start learning more about this industry. I do listen to quite a few different podcasts that are, talking about these exact subjects. I’m actually going to look up the names of them.  “Wardrobe Crisis” with Clare Press. She really does interview some really interesting people who were in so many different facets of the industry.  I find that it has been just a fantastic resource for me. “The Business of Fashion” podcast is a great one. And the other one I listened to all the time is “Conscious Chatter”. It’s a great one.  Listen to any of those ones and you will get a ton of information and a newer one for me is “Sustainably Influenced”. Yeah, for me, I found especially when I had first started moving into the space, the more I understood, the more I listened to it, the more accountable I held myself to not  to slip back into old habits. And so for me, while I’m cleaning dishes and prepping things for the kids for school, I’ll throw one of these podcasts on and listen to a different perspective or point of view. Or it might be someone who is a garment worker who they’re interviewing, or it could be somebody who is talking about the environmental damage being done. There’s just so much to know. I’m talking about the secondhand markets in different countries and what that looks like and how that’s impacting their economies. It’s such a vast subject.  I find for myself as well, once I started learning so much about that side of it, I saw how it really related to a lot of different facets of life, whether it’s home decor pieces you’re bringing in or how I shop for my children. It really does. Fashion is such a huge scope of things, and it really does branch into other areas of your life and gives you some perspective by shifting your mindset, you can really start to consume less. And just how empowering that actually feels that one of the best actions we can take is by not spending money, by not shopping, by not contributing to the problem, is kind of empowering. I hear so many times people say, I don’t really know how to get involved because I don’t really have the budget. I feel like it’s really expensive to get into sustainable fashion when really my very first step after watching that documentary was just stopping. I just stopped. I spent no money. I bought nothing. I had too much guilt to even think about shopping and then it became this. Okay. How can we do better? So those would be my resources that I would go to the most. I also really love following a diverse group of people on my social media feeds on Instagram and seeing people with all different bodies, with all different sizes, bodies that look like mine, some bodies that don’t look like mine and just seeing how people style themselves and how they put outfits together. There’s some really inspiring people. Putting looks and things together in ways that you just wouldn’t think ofI get s and I get so inspired by that. Sometimes even just to give me the courage, maybe to try something different or, or to experiment and put something on that might be maybe a little weird but I feel good in it. So go for it. I find that that actually helps me to consume less too because it makes me be more creative with what I already have as opposed to buying a new thing to style.

A: Well, I think sometimes, and I’m totally guilty of this, is that, depending on how you fold your clothes in your dresser, how you store them in your closet, you don’t necessarily see what you have.  If you aren’t constantly going through it or not constantly, but like per season and looking at it, sometimes you don’t realize how many gems you already have and that you don’t necessarily need to buy something else. I was following this influencer and the other day had kind of, in her words, gotten in kind of a “mom rut” and was kind of dressing for the pandemic, which meant basically pajamas or sweats. She had kind of gone into “I don’t even know how to dress like a human going out into the world anymore”. She had hired a stylist and the stylist came to her home and actually put together so many outfits that she was like, I didn’t even realize, but had all of these things. Love that. But I think sometimes it is, try on your clothes and if they don’t fit, then potentially get rid of them, but see what you have, make those outfits. And we are lucky in 2022 that Instagram or Pinterest can give us different ideas and something that maybe felt dated now is sort of coming back because it always comes back and allows us to still feel trendy now, when I know one thing that you’ve talked about before is a capsule.  Can you explain what that is? And some tips on if somebody wanted one, how they would go about it?

Jenn Pistor

A Capsule Wardrobe Is Your Best Friend

J: Yeah. So a capsule wardrobe is a great way to give yourself a better idea of, well, okay. Let me back up. Let’s back up for somebody who is like, I will say the one time in my life where I had a really solid capsule wardrobe was when I was pregnant because I did not want to invest a huge amount of money into a wardrobe that I was going to wear for a short period of time. So within that capsule wardrobe that I would have had, I had depending on the season, of course, but let’s say for the spring summer season, I had a couple of dresses. I had a skirt, I had a pair of jeans, pair of pants. I had, you know, three or four, t-shirts a couple of tank tops, couple of cardigans, layering pieces, you know, nice little mix of shoes that were comfortable and would fit on my, you know, squishy little feet at the time. And within that, I was able to mix and match and create new looks each day. But with this sort of limited and more finite amount of clothing, It is such a great way for those people who are like, you know, what, getting dressed as a chore for me in the morning, or the people who really just get overwhelmed by how much is hanging in their closet. And to your point, like don’t even maybe know what’s in their closet anymore. So to create a capsule wardrobe, it’s the first thing really to do is assess what you have and do what I would call like closet inventory to go through and see what you have. It will be something that you’re going to want to take your time with because you’re going to want to be able to try things on and really take note of what it is you actually wear. You have to be very honest with yourself because I feel like I have those pieces that I’m like, I totally wear this all the time, but it’s like, no, it’s just, I love it for the once or twice a year I wear it and that’s okay. But for a capsule wardrobe, it really is pieces that you were going to wear, wear and wear again in multiple different ways. And so this is where styling and creativity can really come in and you can take one item and wear it five or six different ways if you wanted to really just dip your toe in because you’re like, I don’t know, that sounds like a lot. I don’t know if I could commit to having only certain amount of items, which can really vary. There are people who are very strict and they have like 30 items. There are some who have 50. I say just, you know, whatever feels like your number is your number. But you could do like give yourself what I did one during the pandemic. I did a little 10 by 10 challenge where I had went through my wardrobe. I selected 10 pieces of clothing and I wore only those 10 items for 10 days. And it was so fun. I mean, I was realistic about what I chose because it was during the pandemic and while we’re still independent, but it was during the very locked down, not leaving our house at all part of things. So I mean yeah, there were sweat pants in there, you know, for sure there was comfortable things. There was a dress, there was some leggings. Cardigans and things that I knew I would wear, there was a little bit of colour, a little bit of print, but it was only 10 items. I didn’t include shoes and accessories.  I wore those, you know, 10 items, 10 different ways. I photographed my journey the whole way through. So I could go back and refer to what I came up with. And I mean, the first couple of days it’s kind of easy because you’re like, wow okay, we’ll wear this pant, this bottom and this pant, this top, and then a dress. Then by day four, you’re like, oh, I’ve kind of worn all of these pieces already. How do we loop it back around and realize there’s no shame in wearing the exact same things over again. It’s totally fine to outfit repeat. Right. And it was a really great way to see how you can manage with less. I think we think we need 15 pairs of black shoes and 20 pairs of jeans. And I lived that way for a very long time.  Once you start to realize, well you really only wear two pairs of the black shoes that you own. So those are the ones that you should keep in that capsule. So capsules, some people do it for a year. Their entire year is just these pieces and then they might swap some things out. Some people do capsule wardrobe by season, so they might pack some things away. It’s not necessarily that they’re getting rid of everything that they own. They’re definitely going to downsize and be realistic about what they keep and don’t, but you might decide, this is my summer capsule, my spring, and then you can rotate some things out. Some things might stay there. There might be like one dress that you are able to layer in the winter and to wear just sandals in the summer and so it stays here year round, and other pieces might flow in it out, but it’s a really great way to take the guesswork out of getting dressed in the morning.  Once people get into it and start doing it more and more getting dressed as just, you don’t even think about it in the morning, it doesn’t become this overwhelming thing because you’re digging to the back of the closet, looking for that sweater you think you have, but you can’t remember if you got rid of it or is it back there?

A: I think that’s really important too. We’re not, you know, being photographed by paparazzi every single time we leave our house. So your idea of like repeating things. It’s okay for us to repeat and people will know that you washed your clothes if you’re spotted with wearing those black leggings or whatever multiple days, but I’m sure people will assume that you have more than one or whatever the case may be. But I do think we get in our heads about that. And I do think that the more choices that we have become super, super overwhelming, and it’s like, oh my gosh, what do I wear? Or I have a pile of laundry, you know, on my floor wherever I keep it. And then it’s like, oh my gosh, I’m looking for this one piece that you’re sifting through a bunch of other stuff to try to find it. So I do think, and again, I’ve totally been in that mindset too. That more is more, and especially having a teenage daughter, she’s definitely in the mindset. I’m more, it’s more and more and more and more. But I do think that having less really does give you the freedom and lets you kind of be fun with it.It’s like adding accessories and again, and not just throw and go.

J: Absolutely. And you know, with a capsule wardrobe, like if you go through, I mean, I always say my body seems to shift every five years. There’s this sort of morph that happens as we, as we age. And I end up every five years having to reshift some of the things that I have in my wardrobe because they just don’t fit me the same or hang the same way that they used to. So. For with you’re doing something with a capsule wardrobe. It does make it easier because those are going to be pieces that maybe you’re investing a little bit more in because you don’t have 20 pairs of pants. You have maybe four pairs of pants and you’re going to wear them a lot more. And you’re going to get the cost per wear down. So if you buy a $20 pair of pants you wear once, well, your cost per wear is $20, right? Buy a pair of pants for $150, but you wear them, you know, over a hundred times. Well guess what your cost per wear is down so much more. So you’re getting so much more bang for your buck by wearing your clothing more, but that’s not sustainable. If we have a huge wardrobe at, you know, it’s just, there’s so many things that go unworn. And I know, I, I feel like over this past several years now, you know, when my, my wardrobe goes from having quite a few things in it to really get it down to a bunch of things, again, you know, I re I sell a lot of clothing, you know, through resell apps or just directly through my Instagram. Try not to donate too much. I try and physically find new homes for them, myself. But I do know that I am happier and less overwhelmed when I have a slightly lower number in my wardrobe because I can open up my closet. I see everything that’s there. I know what I have. You know, you’ve got that mental inventory of, of what’s there. And for me at the beginning of the year, I wanted to kind of really hone in on what it is I’m wearing. And so I did the flip, all my hangers backwards in my closet. And as I wear them, I flip the hanger back around just as a visual guide to see what I’m always gravitating towards doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to get rid of all the things that I haven’t worn. Some of those things are just circumstantial because of where we still are at in the world. I mean, I still do live pretty at home life. So some of my pieces aren’t getting worn, but they fit me well, and I feel really good in them still. They can still hang out. Makes me happy to know that they’re waiting to be friends again when the time comes. But to just have that visual aid and see that something that’s maybe been sitting there for six months and you’re not wearing it for no reason other than like it maybe just doesn’t fit quite right. And maybe the sizing isn’t quite there and, and also being a little more realistic about those pieces that. Well, I definitely got rid of all the things just did not fit me at all that I won’t torture myself with anymore. I, you know, used to do the, keeping all the things from pre-baby years and no, I can’t. I definitely relocated those all to a new home so they get used and they don’t sit there and stare at me. And, you know, there are the things that I’m like, Hey it doesn’t really fit that well but like maybe I’ll wear it. And then six months go by and that thing is still sitting there. So I try to rip that bandaid off sooner than I used to. Whereas I used to hang on to things thinking I’d maybe make it work when the reality is it’s just taking up space in my mind and in my closet.

A: The inspirational clothing. Almost that when I’m this size or whatever. I’ve done it a little bit with my clothes, maybe in my twenties, that there’s no way that I’m ever fitting. Even both of my legs, if we had sewed the pant legs together, one leg still wouldn’t fit into it. Yeah. Those ones I’ve stuck away so that when the fashion sort of flips again, my daughter might not cringe at them. Yes. But all of those things that realistically are like mom clothes that kids aren’t really going to want to, maybe one day inherit, all you’re doing is beating yourself up about them when you’re looking at them all day. And it’s the guilt and the shame, which there really shouldn’t be. And I know that the media and society wants women to say, you know, you can’t change after having kids or you can’t change when menopause comes or all these things, but the idea is. that we are, and we really just need to acknowledge that that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with changing bodies. Whether they get bigger or smaller, whatever the case may be. It’s like learning to love yourself at each stage. And I think sometimes when we hold onto those clothes, that definitely aren’t going to fit and that aren’t really on the maybe spectrum of things. It is better just rehome them give them to somebody, sell them to somebody, but get them out of the way because not only are they creating, like you said, space in your closet, but they are creating unnecessary space in your head and heart.

J: So agree. I so agree.

A: Now, thinking about spring coming up and thinking about say local brands, what are some shops that you would recommend people check out if they’re unfamiliar with them or check out their website?

J: Yeah. I mean I will say I have definitely, I guess just with sustainability, a lot of the shops and brands that I shop with are mostly online.The brands are all really helpful too. I just want to mention that if you’re really hesitant to be shopping online because of sizing, because that was me for the longest time, especially with pants and tops. I can get my head around pants. They can be a whole challenging other thing. It’s a whole other thing. The brands are amazing. These small guys, when you reach out to them and say, look, I really want to invest in this beautiful pair of pants, but I don’t know. They will walk you through it. What are your measurements? They guide you. How do you want it to fit? I mean, there is a whole customer service experience that can come from online shopping as well. So I would say for me, knowing what’s hanging in my closet and currently on my body, my go-to brands would be a free label who I’d mentioned before, who has. First got back into modeling with, I have since become a very good customer of theirs and I wear their things almost every day. Their bamboo collection is incredible there. No wire bras and their pants are pretty much what I live in. Buttercream clothing is another one. By the way, these brands are all really size inclusive as well. So there is a really beautiful spectrum of sizes that they have available and their clothing just fits and moves with you. I am a full-time stay-at-home mom so I do want to wardrobe that I can function and do my mom duties in. And, but still go out and look cute, you know, and not, and still feel like it’s all really well put together. I really love a local black woman designer here in Vancouver, Oge Ajibe. She is phenomenal. Her pieces are gorgeous. She designs with a plus size or larger body in mind and bits are impeccable and her styling is very interesting. You know, it has interest to it. Her shorts keep an eye out for shorts when she releases them, because they are, I lived in a pair of black linen shorts of hers last year. They were just, they hit me where I wanted to hit them. And I was somebody who didn’t wear shorts for like at least a decade and her shorts- magic, but so were her dresses and her tops. She uses a lot of dead stock fabric and she’s phenomenal.

A: They’re hard, especially with thighs.

Jenn Pistor

J: It really is hard cause you don’t want them to ride up in the middle and you’re tugging them down constantly. You don’t want the chafing and you need to be able to sit comfortably in them. It’s a tricky thing, but yes, keep an eye out for her spring collection for sure. I also have recently become a fan of Connally McDougall. She’s here in Vancouver as well. Her size range is incredible. She currently is offering size extra small to a nine X with plans to expand her size range even more next month, which is incredible. Her fabrics and styles are great. She’s a phenomenal human being and will customize your sizing requests as well. So that’s amazing that she does that, if you’re like, oh, but I always have a problem with tops being too short or this being too long, you have an incredible designer who will work with you. She’ll make it fit and make it be your own. I love when designers do these things, it’s such a rare find. And another brand who I recently well, I guess it was back in the fall, had discovered they are based out of the states, but the work with designers in Africa or India. Sorry. I can’t remember one of the two, I believe India actually. They do organic cotton dresses, tops and tunics, and everything is block printed with natural dyes.  When I was on their website, I was a little hesitant at first because they said their offering only went up to, I think it’s double, extra large, which I wear. But when I reached back out to them they informed me that they do custom sizing as well, which is incredible. And they have beautiful dresses, definitely something if you wanted a more unique piece. Very simplistic cuts but the prints and everything they do are all  hand-tied, it’s just, it’s gorgeous. So those would be some of my current favourites that I can think of that I wear basically daily. Those are my daily go-to’s.

A: It’s awesome to know about the custom sizing because I wouldn’t in a million years think of a brand doing that. And I think that’s something with a smaller brand that is another massive plus side, that you do get customer service and can talk to a human, not one of those annoying bots. You actually get different things.  I would really love to see more brands expand in to the customer service because I think that’s something that’s just fleeting as we get more accustomed to fast everything. But I love the idea that there’s brands that you can actually communicate one-on-one with and being able to say, I might need things two inches longer based off my torso or maybe my legs. I know my daughter is much taller than I am. Being short it’s something too that you always end up with super, super long pants.

J: Yeah and for another thing that just came to mind too, and exactly what you’re talking about was that it’s easy, uniform and handmade. They do a lot of hemp fabrics, linens and natural textiles. And they had sent it to me just to try it out, to see what I thought and I loved it but I felt it was too short. And so they were like, Let’s work on that and the tops were lengthened. So I mean these brands are so great too because they do take feedback so well, they really help and work with you, their customer. They want to make sure that you feel good in what you’re wearing because if you feel good in something like, I always found, like I worked in retail for a long time and I remember customers would always say to me, you know, what are you just telling me? It looks good. Or does that actually look like and I’d say why we’re always going to be honest with you because when you leave here and if somebody says, oh, where did you get that? And you tell them where you got it. That’s not good advertising. Or if they say, oh, where did you get that? Because the difference is you’re going to feel amazing so you’re going to carry yourself differently and that garment will hang differently on you. So I think you’re so right. The customer service side of things is so important because when you can get that honesty and you can give them that feedback and they can really assist you in finding the right pieces. Especially if you’re investing a little bit more in something you want that experience. And that is what is really going to differentiate the smaller local brands from the big guys too.

A: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having this chat with me today and I learned a ton of stuff I didn’t even think to think about. I definitely appreciate that.

J: Amazing. Well, thank you so much for talking with me. It was a pleasure and thank you for giving me the chance to talk about all the things that I love.

How To Find Jen

A: If anybody was looking to work with you, where to find your blog, where do they find you on the internet?

J: You can find me either on Instagram, which is at @jenpistor or you can find me over on my blog, which goal of mine for this year is to really get back into writing more. So there is going to be some new blog posts coming at

A: Thank you very much.

J: Thank you.