22 October 2015

Slow Fashion October

I have been following with interest, all the blog post about Slow Fashion October. Initially, I believed I was just a spectator. I couldn't possibly have anything to contribute among all these talented makers and bloggers! Then I shook myself. Come on girl! Get in there! I'm not the first to observe that sometimes social media can be aspiration focused to the point of intimidation. The sheer beauty of the work being produced and the photography can make one's own fashion and lifestyle choices seem small and unimportant. Yet, I have not survived a half century on this planet without forming some opinions on the subject and they are worth sharing.

I am a lover of all things slow. I cycle, take transit, shop local, avoid big box stores and I do-it-myself whenever possible. When it comes to clothing, I am particularly small. Now, I don't "sew" in the traditional sense and that's not for lack of trying. Twice I've tried to learn - in high school and then again in theatre school - but sewing machines and I do not get along. They instantly malfunction when they see me coming to avoid my clumsy fingers and foul language. So, no cute McCall's dresses for me. Yes, I knit and happily so. My knitwear is the sum total of items made completely by me.

But October 19-25 of the project is mine!

WORN is the theme and it is described as: second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity and bucking trends.

I learned long ago what looks good on me and shop accordingly. I also shop primarily second hand for major items and outerwear (underwear is excepted). At first this was out of economic necessity. Then I began to appreciate the plus side of browsing a store that has only one of everything (So much choice! No cookie cutter fits!) along with the joy of finding that perfect thing that only you can love properly. I also feel pretty good about not contributing directly to sweat shop abuses nor being part of the never ending demand for new.

When I find that perfect thing, a rare occasion indeed, I care for it fastidiously. I hand wash and hand mend. If a dress is beautiful now, it will always be beautiful if you care for it. "To hell with trends!", I say. Recently someone glowingly complimented me on a dress that I've owned for over 20 years!

Now when I say I don't sew, I mean I don't sew properly. For a long time I thought this meant I was faking it but now I am comfortable knowing that alterations I make by instinct work and they are no less valid than those made by expert tailors. I turn up hems on 80"s dresses using iron-on tape, cut off ugly fabric belts and wear beautiful leather ones instead, change buttons and fold up sleeves. Once I put darts in the waist band of a pair of pants then sewed on big decorative buttons over the badly sewn darts. It looked great.

A few people have told me that I have a unique sense of style and I'm always proud to hear it. I'm not rich but I manage, without damaging the environment, to feel good about the way I look when I leave the house.

My birthday outfit. The dress cost $10 second hand.
The sleeves were too tight so I notched them at the armpits and then I wore a great belt to give it shape. The shoes I bought at my neighbour's yard sale for 50 cents.

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