6 October 2009 – From München, With Love

October 6th, 2009 § 21 comments

6 October 2009 – From München, With Love, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Blue scarf – TJMaxx, remixed
  • Tan bag – Etienne Aigner, remixed
  • Skinnies – thrifted, remixed
  • Boots – BR, remixed
  • Sunglasses – H&M, remixed
  • Trench – vintage, from my grandmother’s closet!


Greetings from Bavaria! I made it and I’m settling into my new ‘home’ here. It’s been a crazy few days, but I love this city and I love getting to use so much of my German as I’m desperately trying to take care of everything needed before I can settle happily into my research.

As far as first (style) impressions go, these Münchner sure know how to dress! I’m seeing a ton of very stylish men and women and taking note! And talk about the many chic cyclists on the roads.  As for my own outfit of this past weekend, it’s been a simple skinnies-boots-and-coat combo that manages to feel both practical and comfortable without screaming ‘tourist’.

A while ago, when I acquired this yellow bag, I asked readers how one knows when something is truly vintage. Well, this time, I know. This classic trench is definitely vintage since I can date it back to at least 1974, when I have photographic evidence of my grandmother wearing it:

These pictures were taken in Budapest in 1974 with colleagues of hers on a work trip. Can you spot her in the group shot below? (She later had the coat shortened to the length you see on me today).

This trench has made many more appearances in our family photo albums, as it was my grandmother’s one “good” spring and fall jacket. She’s often told how how “back then” you had “one good item” and you just took good care of it. She’s certainly done that since I was able to find it in perfect condition on this recent visit and claim it for wear.

Her point about having less things but of distinction calls to mind the difference between today’s consumer culture with emphasis on more, more, more and perhaps a more ‘vintage’ mindset of acquiring fewer pieces with quality and longevity in mind. Although I like the latter approach better, I must confess that thrift shopping and the ease with which one can collect and acquire things today makes me more of a participant in the prior category.

How to do you feel about this dichotomy, do you see yourself consciously opting for one approach over the other? And in this age of ready-made clothing, thrift-store abundance, and ebay-auction-accessibility, can these same ‘vintage’ mores still be applied? While you ponder those questions, I leave you with one more picture of my beautiful grandmother at age twenty-three, photographed with a monographed “V” for her name, back in 1950. S.

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§ 21 Responses to 6 October 2009 – From München, With Love"

  1. Tizzle-T says:

    Both you and your grandmother look beautiful. Enjoy München!

  2. Tracy says:

    I would say that I fall into the former category. It is simply too expensive to buy the “quality” things. But I question how much better quality they really are. Plus I would be very very upset if I spent a ton of money on an item and something happened to it in the wash, or if I stained it somehow. With the cheaper clothing, my style can be constantly changing and evolving, without totally breaking the bank. Also, if you’re handy with a needle and thread, then you can make the cheaper clothes last longer by repairing minor damage when it happens.

  3. Ileana (S'mama) says:

    i’M PROUD OF YOU S.!

  4. piglet says:

    What a wonderful coat of your Grandmother’s!
    I definitely am a quantity over quality person. I just love bargain hunting too much!
    And when I get sick of things I either sell them on or donate them to charity shops.

  5. Luinae says:

    That is one beautiful coat- and amazing that it still looks so wonderful!

  6. Anna says:

    I have to agree with Tracy; I often wonder if I’m really getting my money’s worth when I buy a more expensive item. Plus, it’s just hard to justify spending a lot of money on clothes when they can be found for cheaper.

  7. Jane W. says:

    I tend more toward quality than quantity, although it’s getting difficult to find affordable quality these days. Stores that are high-end by my income just aren’t what they used to be.

    For example, I wore BR and AT sweaters that I bought back in the 80s and 90s for YEARS. Last fall I bought a BR cardigan and it pilled within a few wearings.

    Now I tend toward vintage things.

  8. Kacie says:

    Love the coat! I also enjoy how you have some other people in your photo. Everyone looks so great!

  9. Lisa says:

    I love this outfit! It is very chic.

    How do you like the Banana Republic boots? Are they comfortable after wearing for period of time? I’m considering purchasing a pair.


  10. Christina W. says:

    You and your grandmother are both beautiful!

    I unfortunately fall into the former category– I enjoy new things way too much.
    However, I’ve been working on buying fewer pieces, selling or donating my so-so pieces, and saving up for more expensive things that I really love and know I will love forever. That “vintage” buying mentality appeals to me both on an aesthetic and environmentally conscious level. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. S.D. says:

    I have been thinking about the quality vs. quantity question a lot lately. I’ve noticed that I absolutely devour reading posts on various blogs etc. about wardrobe clearing, paring down, building a basic wardrobe, etc. That approach really appeals to me on some level. But it’s almost like–if you’ll forgive the metaphor–the fashion equivalent of food porn for me. I mean it’s totally aspirational and fantasy. Fundamentally I am really a magpie. I enjoy having lots of clothes and new (to me) things to play with. I buy almost all my clothes secondhand, mostly at charity thrift shops. So I think that my approach is not breaking the bank nor is it contributing directly to the environmental impact of disposable fashion. I enjoy being able to take risks and try out styles that I wouldn’t if I were paying retail, and I also enjoy the thrill of sometimes finding high-quality basic pieces in perfect condition. I guess I am still participating in the “quantity” culture by simply wearing those clothes regardless of how they came to me–I mean, my daily “costume” isn’t doing much to question the prevailing culture of quantity and disposable fashion, so I am contributing indirectly to that culture’s environmental and social costs. But I just cannot be that humorless all the time. I do think that I could stand to think more about investing in high-quality basic pieces, like boots or a heirloom trench :-), because for certain things having exactly the *right* item is better (if nothing else, for my enjoyment of the rest of my wardrobe) than thrifting 4 items that aren’t quite it. Anyway, I think you and the other academichic bloggers strike a pretty good balance. I’m looking forward to seeing your posts over this year abroad as I think you are, in some ways, engaged in a long-term experiment about quantity vs. quality.

  12. M.E.J says:

    Well… I think my budget often makes the decision for me in the quality vs. quantity debate. But it also depends on the item: I tend to look for quality when it comes to what I sometimes call the “strong” pieces of my outfit (basically trousers, jackets/coats, and footwear).
    Besides, I think my being a careful (doubtful) buyer, is my way of resisting to the consumeristic culture. (Remember what A. asked a few weeks ago about keeping the labels for a few days? Well, that’s me!)
    And I do love vintage (and retro looks). By the way, S., your grandma’s trench is really nice, her picture is gorgeous, and I must say that you’ve given us equally gorgeous landscapes the past few days.
    Hope we can see you incorporating new euro-chic cycling styles soon! (including the bike, of course).

  13. meg says:

    Buying quality rather than quantity demands a level of discipline I find difficult to muster. It’s like buying off-season: I KNOW it’s a great idea and easier on my wallet, but my desire for instant gratification often wins over prudence. In the same way, buying for timelessness requires an ability to see a garment in all of its potential, and I often lack that kind of circumspection. But I own a few things that have been passed down to me, and they amaze me with their simplicity and reliability. Also, for long-term investments like a formal winter coat, I always check the second-hand stores in the nice parts of town. While I am confident that I can’t afford a long cashmere coat off the rack, I am just as confident that someone could and doesn’t want it any more.

  14. Sharon says:

    Love the trench!

    I fall into the first category, sadly. I love having lots of clothes and I don’t like spending much, so I hunt sales and I used to thrift shop a lot. I do think most items nowadays are of very bad quality, so I do my best to take proper care of them. I also own a big collection of vintage items, thanks to all the older females in my family (mainly my mom) who are as much of a clotheshorse as I am. I think it’s a family trait.

  15. Isa says:


    Welcome to Munich, I hope you’ll enjoy my precious all-time-favourite german city! :-)

  16. Sal says:

    How fun to be the recipient of so many beloved garments from your family members.

    I’ll admit that my strong desire to feel like I have lots of stylish options at my disposal means I am more likely to thrift for quantity than invest in a single quality piece. But I definitely see the value in paying for durable goods that will last a lifetime.

  17. admin says:

    Wow, thank you for such wonderful and thoughtful comments, everyone! I loved hearing your thoughts on this!

    @Lisa – these BR boots are amazing! I got them last winter and practically lived in them because they are very comfortable and go with pretty much anything. Hope that helps!


  18. mariel says:

    this coat is a true classic. i definitely agree that we all need to rein in our fast fashion mentality and focus on fewer, better quality pieces, since some things purchased now last only a few wears while i can re-wear my grandmother’s old items today.

  19. jentine says:

    When I scrolled down , all I could think of was how chic you looked! And then it got even better when I saw that you punked the jacket from your grandmother!
    It’s totally true about the former generations buying a ‘good’ item instead of a crapload of F21. We live in a super diposable world and I feel like our ‘wants’ are now ‘needs’ (though clearly in an emergency, we’d find that it was all still a want). For example, my mother would have a pair of good, black ‘Sunday’ shoes and I find myself needing 7 pairs… you know different heels, booties…open-toe…I’m sure being a blogger doesn’t help me stop the desire for more things either…

  20. Trisha says:

    I love that coat! The buttons are gorgeous. Shopping my grandmother’s closet is one of my favorite activities as well; it’s so fun to give things a second life. Right now I veer wildly between “quantity” and “quality” and am just plain buying too many clothes of all sorts, but am trying to even things out a bit.

  21. [...] wardrobe to just five skirts, could you do it? Following your really thoughtful and provocative comments on my recent post, it appears that most of you/us subscribe to the more is more school of thought [...]

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