Saturday, January 17, 2015

Can't I just buy something?

There are a lot of my fellow sewing bloggers who are determining to go a whole year without purchasing any  Ready to Wear (RTW) clothing...committing to making every new garment that goes into the closet this year.

I think that's terrific.  But I'm not going to do that.

In fact, I'm trying to go the OTHER way...give myself permission to actually buy a RTW garment from time to time.

After years of making most of the clothes I own, that's a hard one.

Oh, I don't have a problem buying things like blue jeans or sweaters.  But stuff that's easy to make, or at all fitted...I just can't get myself to do it.

But, I want to change my paradigm from 'I have to make all my clothes' to 'I choose to make some lovely clothes', so instead of just looking at the pretty clothes online for inspiration, I've actually started clicking through to look at them as possibilities. 

Man, y'all. Clothes that are anything close to well made (and some that aren't) are expensive.

Scarves?  I cannot fathom paying $450 for a scarf.  Sure, it's pretty and a work of art and all, but one bad dribble at lunch... because I know I'll forget to take it off to eat...and, oy.  I have a scarf with a small hole in it because the first time I wore it, it got a chinese noodle drip.  Off to the dry cleaners, where they...I kid you not...put one of those plastic tag ties through it.  And, as if that wasn't bad enough, when I snipped the thing off at home, the tie rolled a bit and pulled a bit of the fabric up into the scissors.  So the little snaggy hole has an actual teeny oval cut right next to it. 

Nope.  Not paying more than $50 for a scarf.

Today I looked through the offerings of one particular upscale label on the Nordstrom site, found a pretty shirt-tail sweater...and then noticed that the curved bits on the hem rolled to the outside.  Or tried to, rather, and ended up just winging out. 

Any of us could've thrown it in the bin in frustration for an issue like that.  But there it was, offered for $127.  On sale.

I decided to try a service that sends a box of goodies to you for $20 after you fill out a size/style questionnaire.  The idea is that you look through the offerings and send back what you don't like.  The $20 is applied to the purchase price, and if you get everything in the box (5 items),  there's another discount.

It was kinda fun, I'll admit.  The box arrived yesterday and I had one hour before I had to leave the house so I thought I'd see what they sent.

A black knit dress...cute, but too small.  Had a stiff elastic cinched waist that would only look good on someone who actually HAS a waistline.  Not a pudgy post menopausal lady like me.  So I obviously would not be keeping the whole box.

There was a silver cuff bracelet.  Whoops, I should've checked 'Bracelets' under the 'don't send' header...they annoy the stew outta me when I'm typing on a key board, which is pretty much what I do all day.

There was a pullover sweater w/ a kangaroo pocket and a hood.  Taupe and white.  The color was a bit odd, and the sweater was just tight enough that the V-neckline...which plunged low enough that a cami underlayer would be a necessity...rippled and gaped and looked stretched out.  It wasn't, but...1/2" more girth on it and it might've been a keeper.

There was a pair of boyfriend jeans.  The cut on those was really, really cute; the length was spot on and the denim was butter soft.  But they had distress lines on them...and I am NOT a fan of the artificial distressed look...and they were just a hair too big.  I could actually pull them off and on without undoing the button/zipper.  Having lost 5ish pounds in the last month or so, and hoping that more will follow, I wasn't sure what to do with them.

The final garment was a burgundy blouse.  Pretty color, and burgundy is an annual color for the choir wardrobe in November. It had an interesting neckline w/ plether trim and the cut was good; the shoulders and bust actually fit pretty well.  But it was a poly crepe blouse (I had requested no polyester) and the sleeves were 2" too long.  But maybe I could move the button and cinch the cuff a bit....

Then I looked at the prices.  The dress and the bracelet, which were for sure going back, were $78 and $30, respectively.  The hooded sweater, which I was pretty sure was going back, was also $78.  The burgundy blouse was $68 and the jeans blew my mind at $128.  About twice as much as I have ever spent on a pair of jeans.

 Now, if any of those things had been truly wonderful I believe I would've paid the stated price for them and added something new and different to the wardrobe.  I might even have gotten the jeans if they'd been a hair snug instead of a hair loose.  If they had also been a good dark wash I probably would've gotten them. If the blouse had been rayon instead of polyester, I might've gotten that.  If the sweater had just been a pinch bigger around, or been more definitely either brown or gray, I might've kept that as well.  Aside from the two that didn't work at all, it was a box of near misses.

So, I ate the $20 deposit and sent it all back.  Left feedback so that if I decide to try again they have a little more data to work with.

And it occurred to me that the things that bugged me, bugged me because I sew.  My standards may be impossibly  high.

Back to the sewing room. ;-)


  1. Wow, a salutary tale. And a great reminder of why we sew. When I need one of those reminders, I also look at these stores (also Neiman M. and Bergdorf G) - and recite their prices to my hubby, laughing all the way. For example, in excess of $1500 for a silk tank top?! LOL. I've made some out of a $5 silk crepe scarf that look just as good. On the other hand, I don't knit, so nice cashmere knit tops are always on my buy list.

  2. I've found thrifting quite good, though its fairly hit and miss. Can be nice quality for not too much money. I avoid mail order except for where I've bought something before in a shop and have an idea of my sizing with that brand. I have lots of Craghoppers hiking gear bought online.

    1. I know folks who have gotten AMAZING stuff from thrift stores...but I think they must hit them right before I do, because I've not had great success. Someday...maybe... ;-)