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  1. Musings on a self-made wardrobe

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my wardrobe: what I want in it, what I want out of it, and how I use clothing to express myself. But I also find myself thinking a lot more about where I want my clothes to be coming from.

    So I decided to take a bit of a different take on the Me-Made May Pledge. Instead of pledging to wear X amount of me-made clothing in May, I’ve used last month to seriously assess my wardrobe, and here are some of my personal epiphanies from this retrospective.

    Use expensive vintage and reproduction for inspiration

    I’ve been lusting after pretty much every dress in the Trashy Diva collection, but particularly the Daisy Mae one. Sadly, no matter how much I love it, I know that $163 for a summer dress that I will likely only wear once or twice a year is not the best idea for my budget.

    When I was looking for good project for the black broadcloth I bought for a circle skirt that I don’t feel like making anymore, I came across the Butterick 5209 pattern, which has a close-enough silhouette to the Daisy Mae. And since I am not an all-black dress kind of person, I am going to make it my own with poppies embroidered on the waistband.

    Make what I can, buy what I can’t

    I recognize that I am not the most amazing seamstress (yet) and will probably never have a wardrobe that is even 50% handmade. I also recognize that there are some pieces I enjoy doing more than others. So I’ve decided that I will splurge on making pieces that I wouldn’t be able to make myself yet - like blazers, jackets, trousers - or anything where it is more cost effective to buy it rather than make it (like socks and skivvies).

    That means I’m going to focus on blouses, dresses and skirts for the time being, and hope to start making my own lounge and sleepwear soon. This doesn’t mean I’ll never ever ever make my own pants or jackets, but I know that they require a much higher skill level than what I have right now.

    This also means I can save money (well maybe. Sewing and knitting are damn expensive hobbies) to buy stuff I really can’t make, like kick ass shoes and kitschy brooches.

    Skip the so-so items to splurge on the superb

    This could also be titled “curbing the impulse buys”. There have been so many things that I’ve bought on a whim because:
    1) it was cheap and it didn’t fit me but maybe I could modify it or sell it.
    2) it was cheap and it had some damage but maybe I could mend it.
    3) it was cheap and I wasn’t crazy about it but maybe I’d grow to love it.

    Aaaand all of those things have pretty much ended up in a Goodwill donation bin or some other form of being given away. I can only imagine what pricy items I could have bought instead of throwing my money on things I never wore!

    This is where something like Pinterest is really great. I have the opportunity to pin something to my Wishlist board, and if I keep coming on back to it, I know that it’s something I should invest in. If not, then I know it was only a momentary lust or heart palpitation. If I know there’s something I’m looking for specifically, like my pair of HeyDay trousers, I subscribe to all their social media outlets to make sure I get the word if something is going on sale. If you sign up for ModCloth an add to your wishlist, they notify you if something is going out of stock. I’ve also noticed that Pinterest will give you a heads up if something is on sale.

    My Pinterest wishlist, with very few things I have actually bought for myself.
    I also am slowly learning to invest in great staples. One night when I had a coffee date with a friend and it was -40*C, I learned that my bus home from work stops running at 6:30 pm, so I had the unbridled joy of walking nine blocks home in boots that were sorta functional but definitely not made for those temperatures. The next week I bought myself some nice knee-high faux fur boots that are good to -30 (also, this was February so they were 40% off).

    Lesson learned, and now I’m on the hunt to find great shoes for commuting to work that are 1) mildly comfortable (I take the bus, so transit-friendly is important) and 2) mildly vintage-appropriate. I’m looking for some chunky, low-heeled oxfords that fit the bill, if anyone has seen any!

    Wow, I didn’t intend this post to be as long as it came out to be. Thanks for sticking with me. If you were just scrolling through, here’s the TLDR version: Make what I can, pony up the big bucks for things I can’t and that are investment pieces, and stop buying clothes that I’m not 100% in love with.

  2. 6 comments:

    1. Jessica said...

      Great pledges, although the last one can be hard to keep! I jusn't can't seem to pass up a good deal, although I know sometimes it would make more sense to buy 1 item I really love instead of 2 the are kind of meh. But good luck with all of that! I really admire the vintage loving ladies who sew, I would love to learn if I had the time.

    2. Anonymous said...

      Excellence!! A word of advice about broadcloth - unless it's 100% cotton and very durable, it won't last for a dress. Pilling is a sad side-effect. I learned this the hard way :(

      I LOVE my Heyday trousers!! I have 2 pairs and wear them a lot. I bought mine on sale in November last year. Definitely worth every single penny :)

    3. Erin Gross said...

      Your Heyday swing trousers look great! An admirable goal and very keeping with make do and mend. xx

    4. Unknown said...

      I really like your wardrobe goals, similar to the thoughts I've had floating around in my own head. I wish you the best of luck, though I must say I agree with Jessica sometimes it's hard to pass up a good deal, even if your on the fence about an item. I'd love to hear a follow up to this post maybe later in the year to see how your wardrobe had evolved.

    5. Juliana said...

      This is a great list! I'm still mulling the lessons of Me-Made May for myself, but many of these resonate quite strongly with me. Also, just so you know, that butterick pattern is a pain in the patootie.

    6. Emily said...

      I know exactly what you mean about the "so-so" items - sometimes I get a little crazy when something is really inexpensive. But I have learned to stop myself and get serious before just grabbing everything that's on the clearance rack. The question I always ask myself is, "Is it really good, or is it only 'good enough'?" And I try to avoid buying the "good enough" items - the things that don't really wow me.

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