Sunday, May 31, 2015

Make It

I hate buying clothes for myself. It's a drudgery, because I just don't really have a personal style. My daughters can wear clothes. They have an amazing sense of style, and they always look awesome - I'm a little jealous, actually. I've never been very good at buying clothes for myself, and the only time in my life when I was both comfortable and felt okay about my wardrobe was when I was in the military, and I did like the way I looked in my uniform.

I've been thinking, lately, that I just need a new uniform, and I actually tried wearing my old camouflage, but I found that people looked at me oddly when I wore my cut-off BDUs. So, I stopped.

Even worse, regardless of where I buy the clothes, I've found that seven out of ten things I bring home, I end up not really liking, most of the time, because they just don't fit right. Even if I try them on before I buy them, once I get them home and start to wear them, I find that I don't like they way they look. Buyer's remorse sucks, and even if I buy those clothes at a deep, deep discount from the secondhand store, I'm still spending money on things I, ultimately, will not use. It's very disappointing.

There's that, but I also hate buying clothes, because we read all of these articles about slave labor and sweatshops and the environmental degradation that occurs in areas where clothing manufacturing happens. Too many of the clothes we wear are not manufactured in the US, and so we don't have to live with the consequences of our clothing choices.

So, there's the issue of spending money and adding clutter to my house and the ethical dilemma of purchasing clothes that are destroying communities. Unfortunately, naked is not an option ... even if it were legal, it's a bit cold here to be naked all of the time, which means I need to find clothes I can wear.

My grandmother was an incredible woman - very frugal, perhaps because she didn't have much choice, because they didn't have a lot of money to spend, or perhaps because she grew up in an economically depressed part of the country during a time when no one had much of anything, or perhaps because it was just smart to not be wasteful and practice the philosophy of enough-ness. She always wore dresses, and they were always in decent enough condition. It wasn't until I was in my teens that I realized she always wore the same dress.

Not the same dress. She had half a dozen (or more) dresses of many different colors and material textures, but it was the same dress. Some had pockets. The ones she wore to church had fancier collars. She had a few with snaps and some with plain buttons and some with fancy buttons. She wore dresses made of a light-weight linen during the summer and had some of a heavier wool or polyester material for winter wear.

I've been thinking about it for a while. Recently, while I was rifling through my very full clothing drawers, I kept coming up short in my efforts to find something I could wear. That skirt is too tight. Those skirts are not appropriate for informal wear. Those pants are too dressy. That pair of shorts no longer fits. That one has a hole. That one has a stain.

And I'm wondering why I'm keeping all of these clothes ... why I even HAVE all of these clothes.

And I start thinking about my grandmother ... and about the woman who did the Little Brown Dress challenge a few years ago, where she sewed two identical brown dresses, which she wore for a whole year. She accessorized with sweaters and leggings, but her base wardrobe was the little brown dress.

And I start thinking that's what I want. I just want some clothes that fit and are versatile enough for a lot of different activities.

So, I started looking for a pattern.

I found a pattern I think I'll like. It's a "two-hour" pattern, which means I can make a new pair of pants or a new skirt in two hours. The pattern makes three lengths of skirts and three lengths of pants.

I could have a whole all-season wardrobe from one pattern ... just like my grandma ... except I'd need a few shirts and sweaters or jackets, but imagine, not ever having to look for bottoms again. That would be awesome!


  1. Wendy, I have a uniform! I wear jeans and one of two polar fleece jackets all winter, and shorts and one of four t-shirts during summer. I work a few mornings a week, and I have four winter and four summer outfits that I can expand by swapping out the tops as I have two more tops than bottoms. I have one dark 'posh frock' that I wear to weddings, funerals and formal events, in winter with a cardigan and coat, I have one party dress, that also works with the formal cardigan I wear with the formal dress and work outfits. I wear one of the work outfits if I am going 'out' but not formal. Done. Got rid of everything else, and now only need to replace an item when it wears out. I love living like this, because, like you, clothes aren't my thing. I think all our grannies lived like this. You can tell by the size of the average vintage era wardrobe - they are tiny. A few dresses, a coat, a couple of warm knitted things, that's all that would fit.

    All the best for your sewing - that is one wardrobe solution I haven't had the courage to try yet, but I know you are well up on.

    PS - Like you, I have a stylish teenage daughter. She is my style advisor, so she comes along on op-shop trips with me to replace work outfits:)

  2. A very good plan. Wishing for a sewing machine is on my Wish List I also can never find any garment that's "just right", so I have an abundance of unworn clothes. 'Had' is the word. I started to dismantle the cotton,linen and 100% wool garments and now have some beautiful quilting fabrics to work with. Even the older garments will make some vintage looking quilts! I throw nothing away; even though I'm now also overloaded with 'cleaning rags' from all stained or ragged clothes, especially those undershirts. Just a thought, in case you ever find time to sit and quilt.

    1. I have a bin full of clothes that have stains or holes and couldn't be donated, but could be used for quilts and such. I'm actually working on cutting strips for the rag rug I'm going to make.

      I never throw stuff away, either. It drives my husband nuts ;).

  3. Hi I have the same problem - I buy something and then decide later that after wearing it I don't like the way it fits or looks. It's such a waste! I read recently that just because a certain garment is made a certain way, you can always alter it to fit properly. Not everyone can just go out and buy something that fits perfectly. I've altered some of my clothing that I would normally have either given away or kept out of guilt but now I have a second chance with the item. I am assuming you are a good seamstress so I'm sure you can alter some of those items you bought to fit better?

    1. When I was in high school, I used to alter my jeans to make the legs tighter, but other than that, I wouldn't even know where to begin to alter things like jeans to make them fit better.

      I'm not a very good seamstress, actually, but I can make pants and skirts. I definitely need more instruction, but I'm very lucky to work, occasionally, with the costumer at our local community theater. I try to pick up tips from her whenever I can ;).

  4. I have three go to patterns when I need new clothes. A pants pattern, shirt( I lengthen this and use it for tunics to go with leggings in the cooler months), and a skirt pattern. Each pattern has a number of style choices for the item being made. All my fabrics are red, black, white or a combination of these colours. This way everything goes with everything else. Shoes come from the opportunity shops as do any accessory requirements. When I can't think of how to wear something I look on Pinterest for inspiration. You go girl and enjoy making clothes that you like to wear.

  5. Yup. I have a kinda uniform in that I have found an outfit that I liked and fitted my body shape and now I just have lots of variations to that outfit. I dress it up or down but basically it's the same. Not into being fashionable I just want to look decent and be comfortable. And I too keep things for a long time so I don't have to shop often save money time and sanity lol