Passion for Fashion?

passion for fashion

I don’t consider myself a fashionista, I don’t really follow trends, I hate being in front of the camera and so rarely get round to blogging about clothes that I’ve made or vintage outfits I’ve put together, I should probably just get over my awkwardness and do so, I have some very nice clothes.

During the week I rarely dress up because I work from home, I do get dressed for work but I’m a creative so wear comfy clothes that I won’t mind if they get spoilt a little with glue or paint. I’m constantly complaining to The Goth that I have nice clothes and make up but never go anywhere and so I end up wearing the same things all the time. He suggested Fancy Friday, which I misheard as Fantasy Friday and ended up with me yelling I’m not dressing up as Princess Leia for you whilst he fell to pieces laughing at my outrage, lord knows what my neighbours think of me with the crap I yell out. FYI I don’t think there is anything with a bit of fantasy role play!

But I do love fashion, I do love seeing what is on trend, scrolling through Instagram to see how people express themselves through their outfits, how to style pieces, colour combos, pattern clashes, the works. It seems kind of an odd passion for someone who is admittedly too lazy these days to dress up. I used to spend hours pin curling and brushing my hair into a 40s style, meticulously matching my accessories to my outfits, finding the most cutest and outlandish prints I could but it appears my tastes have drastically change over the years and I’m leaning towards a more simplified look. I still love seeing other people get dressed up though.

I don’t like snobbery, people who say classic styles are the best, or people really knew how to dress in the old days! If it didn’t cause so much damage I would eye roll for days over these statements. There is no right or wrong way to express your style. No one is better than you because they’re wearing the latest trend or wearing true vintage, there is a lot of snobbery when it comes to clothes but fashion and trends turn over so fast these days it’s hard to keep up.

I’m now old enough where a trend I wore the first time round has made a resurgence, all hail the 90s! Apparently you’re not supposed to wear a trend the second time it comes round but I think that bollocks and doesn’t really count if you never stopped wearing it in the first place.

I like sewing, I like making my own clothes so that I could have a wardrobe that was well fitted and reflected my personality but recently I haven’t really been sewing, mostly due to fluctuating weight problems as I get my food intolerance flare ups under control, bloated stomachs are not helping. But it’s given me time to think about the clothes I make and why I make them. At first it was all about creating the dream wardrobe with clothes for every occasion, a wardrobe that was to keep and be sustainable and whatnot and it is still partly that but as I said before we change, tastes change, style changes, things we like and no longer things we want or aspire to, they belong in the past, we move forward onto to and experiment with new things, a constant exploration of finding out who we are.

Recently I’ve been to a few fashion exhibitions, things I paid most attention to were the construction details, the drape, the tailoring, the finishing, the embellishments, the time taken over each garment. Despite wanting a cleaner and simpler wardrobe I’m oddly obsessed with complicated garment construction! Actually I’m more obsessed with well made and well constructed garments. We’re all guilty of cheap frivolous purchases, as whether it be a wardrobe malfunction, ill-fitting, sitting in the wardrobe the planet is now paying the price of fast fashion.

It has been said that fashion is what you buy, style is what you do with it. We need to start focusing on buying items to reflect our personal style rather than copying the latest trends. Whilst there is nothing wrong with using trends as inspiration, I always find it a little disappointing when I see twenty fashion blogs all wearing and writing about the same must have jumper! I get that is what brings in the numbers and views etc but I want to see more people incorporating that piece into their personal style rather than a standard template and why you like that piece other than it’s really comfy or that it was the latest must have item.

So I guess whilst I have a passion for fashion, I want to also pay more attention as to why I’m adding that item to my wardrobe. Will I wear it? Or did I just buy it because it looked pretty? Where did it come from? Who made it? Is it value for money? Is it well made? And so on and so.

Slow Fashion

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I’ve been thinking about reviving a few projects that got cast by the wayside this year in favour of other things for one reason or another. One of my ongoing yearly projects is making my own clothes, last year this fell by the wayside and I finished a few items, none of the dresses fit and I still to work on my knitting gauge apparently!

Probably one for the main reasons for this lack of enthusiasm is an ongoing weight issues due mostly to a bout of low-level poor health issues this year a long side ongoing battle with food intolerances that leave me pretty much bloated quite a lot of the time, so a lot of projects I started ended up too small half way through. This is something I’ve had to come to terms with, that and a slowing metabolism thanks to age! This is not a whinge it’s more of a I’ve learned to accept that this is the way things are. Body acceptance in this day an age is just as much an act of radicalism as is body positivity or loving your body but I think that is a subject for another day or I’ll go too off topic. So in short I have learned to accept that I have a fluctuating body shape, some days clothes fit, others they don’t, so for me it’s now about building a wardrobe around that!

Usually I’m trying to always push myself to do more, sew more, knit more, produce more, etc but this is not always productive as this year has shown. I literally came to a standstill and was like what is the point of producing all these clothes just to show that I can! The whole point of me learning to sew all these years ago was to make clothes that suited my personality, fit better than the high street and more sustainable than the current fast fashion, throw away culture we have inherently adopted but somehow I appear to have stumbled off the path slightly, so not making has given me a chance to reassess things. As with anything as time goes on things change, your body changes, your taste changes, trends come and go, so it’s always good to acknowledge those changes or risk getting stuck in a rut. Obviously there is nothing wrong if you’re happy with the way things are, as long as you are happy.

So what’s my next move? Well I think it’s time to start focusing more on quality than quantity and I’ll be applying this to all aspects of my life works and personal. I’ve had a lot of time to do research this year looking for inspiration, ideas and styles and how to express and execute my own style on my blog and though social media to show off my work. Also to focus on taking my skills to the next level as well as learning new ones. To develop on presenting my work better to express myself, I guess that would be presenting my aesthetic/style better. The one thing I would say I’ve taken from my research is to up my game, be more confident in expressing myself and I don’t just mean on twitter screaming into the abyss about how fucked up the world is! I mean artistically.

It’s no longer about doing more, reading more, writing more etc it’s about enjoying what you and getting the most out of that experience. Every year I do the Goodreads challenge which is where you set yourself a number of books to read throughout the year, every year I fail to reach my target, not because I set a high number of books but because as my OH said to me it kind of takes the fun out of reading because you’re always thinking about the next book, so next year I’m not doing it! I’m not setting any challenges, yes I have goals but no challenges. I will make clothes, I will learn the techniques I need to make them I have a vague list of items that I want to learn to make, trousers, a coat, lingerie etc but that’s about as far as I have got. There will be no I’m going to write three blog posts a week, I will still be blog as and when probably aiming for at least once a week as long as I feel it’s worth publishing. I’m letting of go of stats and numbers and followers, I’m not failing because I’m not keeping up to set standards, I’m just following my own path. I get I might be repeating myself a bit over these posts but constantly reminding yourself of the objective is okay to keep you on track.

That saying I’m not knocking those who enjoy a good challenge, if that is what you need to do thrive and excel then go for it and I wholeheartedly encourage it but if you’re not enjoying it then maybe take a step back and ask yourself why? I want to enjoy making my clothes and much as I do wearing them, we seem to have lost the art of enjoying things as we constantly focus on how much work we are producing instead of focusing on why we are producing that work.

Not a new idea I know but I will be concentrating on the finer details when it comes to creating, so I guess a less is more theme to next year’s creativity. In other news I will be returning to my blogging roots and writing more about creativity and clothes, mostly making clothes, influences and trends etc but mostly  will be focusing on the quality of my work because I think that is what really counts.

 

 

Feminist In A Fifties Dress!

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Two rants in two days, I’m not even gonna apologise because sometimes you need to get stuff off your chest right? Oh and if you don’t like swears, you might want to skip out now because there are a few and I was being restrained! Normal boring blogging will resume next week.

‘Old fashioned values’ is a term that quite frankly I despise because half the time it refers to a way of life that was actually quite repressive. Before you go on about manners and courtesy and whatnot, personally I don’t see these as old-fashioned values, they are just values that people should aspire to anyway, regardless of what times we live. This constant harking back to the ‘good old days’ and ‘old fashioned values’ because most people cannot relate as they did not live these time, they are other people’s experiences handed down to us in trust and sometimes you just can;t trust other people’s judgments on things,

Let me explain as to what kicked off this latest rant, so someone shared a video into my facebook feed (yes I know I’m supposed to have quit arsebook but we’ll go into that another time) about a girl who dresses vintage and why. Now as a person who dresses vintage, I found this video highly problematic because it was about dressing for respect and behaving like a lady, so that people, mainly men would treat you like a lady and that if women were more modest than people would respect them more. So basically cover your skin so people don’t think you’re trash! Excuse me, fuck you and the proverbial high horse you rode in on!

Firstly this states that you have to dress a certain way so that men behave themselves, forget that the sexual harassment was just as rife in the 50s as it is today. The fact is you’re saying that women have to take responsibility to curb the actions of others. We are taught from such a young that it’s our fault and that we must behave a certain way because it’s not the responsibility of predators to control themselves. Seriously sister, you could cover yourself from head to toe in the ugliest outfit ever but if someone wants to sexually harass you even just disrespect and judge you, they’re gonna!

It’s snobbery! Making yourself out to be superior because you behave a certain way is just snobbery. You are not better than everyone just because you choose to be more ‘modest’, your friends are not beneath you because their skirt is shorter than yours, you’re just stuck up!

Clothes should be worn because you like them and feel comfortable in them, not because you think people are going to respect you. You can wear the prettiest dress in the world but if you’re a complete arsehole, then the dress is not going to change that fact!

What the fuck is ladylike, not this language for a start but who do you get to dictate what is ladylike. So you want a world where men fall over to hold the doors open for you, carry your shopping, whilst you giggly coyly and sip tea with one picky in the air, go fucking you! But you know also thanks for undoing years of work on trying to eradicate repressive stereotyping like this!

The old days weren’t better, they were different and with far fewer choices. Remember when women couldn’t show leg because it was deemed unacceptable for a lady to do such a thing, as was voting. Or that we couldn’t have our own bank account when we got married and it was automatically transferred to our husbands, or we could get fired for being pregnant, or the fact that to be married you had to be heterosexual because being gay was illegal? Need I go with this, no I don’t think we do?

I also get extremely annoyed when I hear the phrase it’s a generational thing especially when it comes to excusing things like sexism and racism. Firstly no, it’s just ignorant! As long as you are alive in this planet you never not have an excuse to educate and better yourself! Secondly it’s insulting to people of that generation who are not ignorant, racist, sexist and whatever else was shit back in the day. Thirdly I’m sorry being politically correct is such a chore for you, how terrible it must be for you taking into consideration other people’s feeling by not being a total prick!

This is pretty much why I stay away from specific scenes in the vintage world (and just people in general). I have quite a few friends into vintage style and they go to all the rave and riots, I go to Viva Las Vegas but that doesn’t mean we immerse ourselves in a reenactment of they way things were. Dressing in the clothes and dancing to the music doesn’t mean we catapult ourselves back to the past and relieve them authentically, though I have read of some that do and you know what that is fine because choices!

Just so you know, just because I dress like a lady doesn’t mean I act like one, I believe in progression, I believe that people should have choices, I believe that people are born equal and should be treated so, I believe that you shouldn’t be judged by standards from a long time ago, I will stand up for myself, I will say what I feel if I think it needs to be said no matter how becoming of me it is! Be yourself, be true to yourself, don’t be a slave to the patriarchal bullshit! You can still be a feminist in a fiftiess dress you know, they’re not mutually exclusive!

 

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The Problem With Vintage?

the problem with vintage

If you’re seasoned vintage seller, buyer, wearer etc, you are no doubt aware that there can be problems with any kind of vintage, preloved, secondhand items and clothing but if you’re not I’m going to list a few and the way you can deal with these.

That Vintage Smell

Recently I purchased a bag and it had that ‘smell’ that is regularly associated with old neglected things that have been stored badly.

Most items with natural fibres tend to pick up and absorb their local environment smells, so it could be stale cigarette smoke, cooking smells, perfume but mostly it is a stale and musty smell from being stored in box or closet with a bunch of other stuff. Sometimes it just needs a good airing. I once soaked and washed a cardigan and it still smelt, Four days hanging on the washing line to air out and the smell was gone. I’ll be doing another post on the products and process for cleaning and repairing.

This particular bag was made from rope and after three soakings not only had the smell gone but it was also a different colour! the dirt that some items, especially bags and shoes can accumulate can be a little gross. Drawback was soaking it caused some of the wooden beads to swell and split and I need to glue them back together when putting the on the bag but this leads nicely onto…

Repairs

Doesn’t matter how you dress it up vintage clothes are mostly used clothes, they been worn, carted around, been through many washes, stored for long periods of time, sometimes badly and so seams come undone, hems drop, zips break, buttons need replacing and so forth.

Most can be easily be dealt with yourself if you’re handy with a needle and some spot cleaner, some you might need to take to a dry cleaners that have alterations and repairs service.

On a side note I went into a big vintage shop once and they were selling damaged items at high prices just because and I quote ‘it’s vintage!’ I guess people are free to sell stuff at whatever price they want but check garments over thoroughly before buying in a shop, it’s all too easy to pick up and item, go this is pretty, buy it and get home to find something is wrong with it. Some repairs are easier than others.

Moths

If something comes with moth holes stick it in the freezer for a few days just to be on the safe side. The last thing you want is a moth infestation, they love natural fibres and will work their way through your collection and getting in a professional pest controller can be very expensive. many smaller moth holes can be darned, bigger ones may need to be taken to a specialist or tailor.

Lavender sachets and moth balls are a good repellent. You can get rentokill tear off sheets to put in pockets or drawers which is what I use. if you recieve an item with moth holes you can always put it in the freezer for a few days just to be sure and kill off any stray eggs.

Items are not described properly.

These days this not as bad as it used to be because sellers are way more protected than buyers, in that online sites tend to side with the buyer, so sellers tend to be overly cautious and provide lots of info and photos. Plus everyone wants good feedback because it helps their reputation as a seller and the competition is fierce.  In the UK buyers are covered under the distant sellers clause and have 14 days to send back any item they have bought online, this gives buyers a chance to physically see the item. Not sure what’s going to happen when we leave the EU but I guess that’s a thought for another day.

If an item you buy isn’t as described, contact the seller first to resolve the issue. Many sellers are pretty decent and will help as much as they can.

Damaged/Lost in Transit

I’ve had my fair share of crappy courier companies leaving parcels in random places. However, with vintage if it gets lost or broken there isn’t a whole lot you can do to get a replacement. You’ll more than likely get your money back but sometimes you have your heart set on an a particular thing and nevertheless it’s still disappointing.

I recently purchased a lot of vintage brooches, the seller didn’t make a whole lot of effort to pack them properly so one ended up bent and another snapped but don’t be afraid to let sellers know, so they can improve their packing techniques.

Can’t find anything in your size.

As far as problems go there is not much anyone can do about this, there is no vintage fountain of clothes and apparel for all sizes, it really does just depend on what has been allowed to circulate. Sometimes you come across larger sizes, sometimes a lot of small sizes, sometimes it’s very hit and miss. The average size has changed over the decades but worry ye not because there are a lot of good repro companies out there. I know sometimes it can feel like all it is polka dots and cherry but there some good that specialise in all decades. 50s was quite hot for a while so you will find a lot of that about.

Alternatively you can sew it yourself as there are lots of vintage sewing patterns in circulation and a lot of sewing pattern companies have caught onto the vintage bug and have been re-releasing their older patterns from certain eras. Don’t be put off if you can’t find a pattern in your size, sewing isn’t as daunting as it looks or if it is, you could probably find a tailor or dressmaker who could make the item for you. It might be as bit pricey but you’d have a made to measure outfit.

So that’s just a few of the problems I find with vintage, let me know if you have you’ve come across.

 

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Seasonal Wardrobes

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So it’s been a while but time to start talking about clothes and style again! There will be some outfit posts coming soon, I promise I just need to finish a few bits on the first and also reclaim my sewing room back which is currently a mess and being used as a temporary store-room!

Now that spring has emerged and summer is doing its usual hokey cokey of whether it’s going to be hot and glorious and wet and miserable, I thought it would be a good time to talk about seasonal wardrobes and switching them over. I think most people by default have at least two seasonal wardrobes one for winter and one for summer and probably like me tend to crossover in transitional months when the weather is a bit more temperamental. Of course this also depends where you live the world but I’m in the UK so we’re currently in nightmare what to wear season where it’s a toss-up between underdress and you freeze, over dress and you boil to death, looks sunny so risk not taking a coat and drown from spontaneuous downpours or if your lucky you might just get it right but this rarely happens in.

I’m writing these style posts as I’m trying to get my wardrobe that I’m making/putting together to not only reflect my personality and style but to also be functional and season appropriate. At the moment I have issue with fluctuating weight which is making sewing plans a bit difficult as I have no idea what measurements to go by but this is an issue for another day and I think I have the situation in hand and the problem is being sorted. I’ve also been in a bit of a style rut because a) I work at home and tend to just wear comfortable clothes and b) despite having a fabulous selection of clothes, not currently being able to fit in them is kind of annoying but as i said working on that.

Do you have a seasonal wardrobe?

So do I have a seasonal wardrobe? Yes I do, though at the moment I’m kind of in a wear what fits kind of stage so most of the winter I’ve been layering up summer clothes with thermal socks and woolly cardigans. I hope to get a few more winter staples made before next winter, that being a few layering jumpers, some long-sleeved cardigans and a few pairs of winter appropriate trousers.

Do you switch them over?

Most of them yes. I tend to pack away most of my dresses, especially strappy ones and things like shorts, thin blouses, light cotton trousers etc as they rarely get worn during the colder months. I tend to leave a few skirts and dresses out that can be layered. Now that it’s spring I’m thinking about things to put away, like my heavier coats, boots and thicker woollen tights. Now is a good time to do a stock take of what you have, clear out non repairable items, recycle or resell things you haven’t worn for ages and see also what needs replacing.

These days it’s so easy to go into a department stores and raid the racks because things look pretty and half the time they just sit in the wardrobe, I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. As I spend most of my time working from home I’m looking to stock up more comfortable and practical clothing. The end of season sales are a good time to grab a few bargains in prep for next year like boots or a coat, or as I’ve done stock up on my underwear and exercise clothes once the Jan/feb fitness rush was over.

How do you store your clothes?

I store my clothes in a couple of old vintage suitcases which I’ve found over the years. Depending on how much space you have you could use shallow plastic storage boxes to store under the bed or on top of wardrobe. Or vacuum bags if you have a loft.

I launder all my clothes before storing them, I line the suitcases with draw liners and I also stick in a sachet of lavender or some cedars balls to repel moths. I also hang these in my wardrobe and clothes draws regardless of the season. Make sure clothes are dry, if you put them in even slightly damp they’ll smell musty when you take them out or even worse develop mould depending on the fabric content.

How to plan your seasonal wardrobe.

So pretty much the same rules apply regardless whether you’re purchasing or making your clothes. Think about your style, what do you like? What do you wear often? And finally what do you need? Always look to invest in your wardrobe, you’re better off buying one decent long serving item than five cheaper alternatives that fall apart after a few wears. When I was at University the first thing I bought with my student loan was snorkel/parker coat and some cat boots to see me through the winters. I still have the coat, it’s been twenty years and the best 30 quid I ever spent! I may not it wear it as much but it’s still there if I need it.

These days I try to be practical when spending money on clothes. Take my wedding dress for instance, generally that’s something you where once but I went for a cocktail dress instead so I could get more wear out of it as I hate to see clothing languishing in the back of the wardrobe unworn and I have worn it again. Although I tend to make more of my own clothes now I still apply this to the fabrics I purchase and the items I plan to make. I also buy a lot of vintage, part of this is to do with style, another part is to do with cut and fit, another part is keeping clothes in circulation and out of the landfill.

Do you have any tips to add about planning or storing your seasonal wardrobes?