On buying clothes

April 8, 2010

This post is partly to assuage my massive guilt about a shopping spree I went on yesterday, and more importantly to ask a question about something that’s been on my mind for a while: How has making your own clothing changed your outlook on buying it?

I’ve reacted to it in several ways, spanning from the “I-can-make-that-for-$10” phenomenon (which we all know and love, and which I grew up hearing every single day about something or other) to a higher appreciation for subtle details of quality construction (or simply things I know I don’t have the skills to do yet, and may not for a while).

Case in point: Molly (a new blogger who has made some absolutely beautiful things lately–her lemon dress is one of my favorite things I’ve seen on a blog in a while) posted about this dress yesterday:

I would not buy this dress, not because the styling is an issue, but because it would be so simple for anyone to make (and I did–stay tuned for an FO post!), even as a first garment. Regardless of the quality of the fabric, I could not justify buying it any more. But I did buy the following things because I appreciated the construction for the price:

The detailing and construction are probably above my level, which justified the purchase to me. The same goes for this jacket, which I love but know I would struggle to make. If I tried it, it would look messy…here, it looks artful:

Another consideration for me is fabric cost. I bought this because it’s probably 2 yards worth of silk (at least), and has a nice button detail on the sleeve that I know I would have difficulty executing in such a slippery fabric:

It hurts me to spend money when I know I can make the exact same thing, and I envy the sewers that have committed to exclusively making their own clothes right now, like Mena of the Sew Weekly (who inspires me not just because of her commitment, but also because of her ability to make almost everything from a vintage pattern! She is amazing.).  But I have had to admit that my sewing skills don’t allow for that and also that it would be depressing and restricting for me. I would like to walk a line, however, and I don’t know what that is. Right now, I’m trying to just learn and enjoy sewing clothes, not obsess over creating as much as possible, just so I have something to wear!

It’s also made me less of a bargain-hunter and more willing to spend money on something I love and appreciate, rather than just what’s on sale and looks good enough on me or will be muted/simple enough to last. It’s made me embrace a personal style that revolves around what I really like and want to wear, not what’s at J. Crew or Ann Taylor right now, regardless of how much I actually like the garments.  My mother picked me up some new Vogue patterns I wanted in a $3.99 sale the other day and she said she felt my style was changing. I realized she was right. I see clothes as more of an art form and method of expression than ever before, and it’s much more important to me to wear what I really want to wear and what I feel good in.

The most surprising thing has been a newfound obsession with shoes. I’ve never been a Carrie Bradshaw-style shoe lover, because honestly, shoes are so expensive, but now that I know they’re basically the one thing I can’t make, I am willing to spend more money–a lot more money–than ever before.

I’ve always been hesitant to spend on shoes because I wear them out so quickly, which I suppose is what happens when you live in a city. I haven’t spent more than $60 on a pair of shoes (not boots) in…maybe ever, and am still wearing (and love) a pair of pumps that I received as a gift in 2002.  I bought my first pairs of colored shoes for the first time ever yesterday, if you can believe it!

So, tell me how making clothes has changed your outlook! I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while, and I really want to hear your thoughts!

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One Response to “On buying clothes”

  1. Sara Says:

    I wear my shoes out fast in part because I wear the same few pairs over and over. I started leaving my “nice” shoes at work so that I would wear them more, but not wear them out. As for those Sex and the City heels walking through NY, I can’t quite fathom it.


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