After Reading Overdressed…What Do I Do Now?

As I stated in my previous post, reading Overdressed and taking one of Claire Kennedy’s sewing classes changed me. I now have a strong desire to make my own clothes and give up buying ready-to-wear garments as much as I can. I don’t know if I can manage to make everything I wear, but I want to make as much as I can. It just makes sense for me.

I have always been frustrated with ready-to-wear clothing. Every shopping trip I make is upsetting. For example, if I look at 30 garments in any given store, I may find 10 that I actually like. Of those 10, seven look like they will work with my body, so I will try them on in the dressing room. Of those seven, three will end up looking absolutely hideous on me; one will fit poorly, one will have a color that isn’t as flattering as I expected, and one will have a terrible color and fit poorly. Of the four remaining garments, two will look so-so and I’ll pass on them because they simply do not justify a purchase. The other two that actually fit and flatter me will come home with me. I’ll wear them until they fade or fall apart beyond repair. I’ve been known to get several years of wear out of a garment, and my current record is a full decade!

But lately, that doesn’t happen. I am having more trouble finding things I like. It seems to me that trends are getting worse. Aside from a brief period of time a few years back when tailored shirts were all the rage, trendy clothing has never flattered me.  My taste does not change much from year to year, and my figure is the same – the classic hourglass – so why not lock on to what works for me and make it for myself? I hate most of the trends and can’t wear them anyway, so why not adhere to my own style? If it flatters my figure and compliments my skin tone, why abandon it just because fashion dictates a new trend? Besides, the classics never go out of style, and fortunately, the classics are exactly what works for me!

In addition, if I happen to find a classical look in a ready-to-wear garment, nothing lasts beyond a season any more. I have an array of clothing from Eddie Bauer, JCPenney, Kohl’s, and Old Navy (and yes, I cringed with guilt when Elizabeth Cline called out those retailers as “bland” and cheap). EB clothing tends to last a bit longer, but I have a few Eddie Bauer pieces that are already worn and faded after wearing them for two seasons. I even have an EB top that has fabric pills around the hips after only one season of wear! Kohl’s and JCPenney clothes come in second as far as quality goes, but they also have a tendency to fade, lose their shape, and look worn out around the hem and collar. Old Navy is the worst offender. Their fabrics get thinner every year, and it’s been years since I’ve been able to wear an Old Navy top without having to layer a tank top or camisole underneath it. It’s clearly a clever scheme to make you buy two tops instead of just one. Most of the clothes from all the retailers have one major thing in common: they are boring. Because the trendy clothes never work for my figure, I end up buying lots of boring solid-color stretchy knit tunic tops. They all scream “frumpy mom!”

As for the rest of my wardrobe, it’s pretty good. I’m not a fast fashion addict who buys tons and tons of trendy cheap clothing every year. I tend to invest in a several pairs of high quality shoes – which tend to go with everything I wear and are very comfortable – rather than dozens of pairs of cheap uncomfortable shoes that only match one or two outfits each. I have some pretty good jeans, pants, and skirts. My dress collection is great; I have several amazing vintage dresses, a few decent modern dresses, and few that I made from vintage patterns. Unfortunately, they aren’t suitable for everyday casual wear, and that’s what I really need. I need things that go well with jeans and casual pants, things that I can wear when I go out with my husband or if I go shopping, but the tops I have are terrible.

With that in mind, I have two goals. One is to dress better. I have to start dressing like I mean it. I have to break out of my frumpy knit top slump. The other goal is to make more of my own clothing. That means that I really need to work on selecting good patterns and fabric, fitting those patterns to my own body, and being careful, neat, and thorough with my sewing. No sloppy seams, no unfinished seams, no shortcuts, no “well that looks like crap but it will have to do.”

I think I can do this. I at least have to try!


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