Self-control 2: eating my words

IMAG5185_1Anyone who follows me on Instagram might have seen a certain denim dress pictured on there several times recently. A suspiciously Warehouse-like denim dress, a denim dress that very closely resembles the despised high street dress I sort-of congratulated myself on not buying in my last post.

Yep, it’s the same one. In my defence, I did not buy it myself; my boyfriend bought it for my birthday and it was entirely his choice; I even had a go at dissuading him, since I couldn’t in conscience encourage him to do something I had decided it was unethical for me to do myself. But oh, I’m so glad that he did!

I love wearing it so much I’ve become addicted: it’s practically a uniform. I wore it eight times before putting it through the wash, and as soon as it was dry I put it on again and wore it four days in a row. Every time I have worn it just as pictured below: with very old, battered-but-sturdy tan boots, a chunky grey wool cardigan I knitted myself, and the dog-tag porcelain necklace I “liberated” from my mother’s jewellery collection. (Not the tan handbag, unfortunately – that was also a maternal loan, but its return was strictly enforced!)

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Again, I’m not quite sure what the point of this post is, apart from to ‘fess up. Perhaps to say that this garment, this rather plain blue dress which has aroused such a curiously strong passion, has been teaching me about my relationship with clothes in more ways than I expected. It feels like a style departure to wear something this old-fashioned and to wear it like a uniform, and yet it also feels like coming home; there’s a naturalness and a simplicity to getting up every day and putting on the same outfit that I had not at all expected to love as much as I do (I never liked my school uniform much!)

In fact, it feels like my expectations of clothing are shifting just as a result of this one dress: having seen that it is possible for one garment to be so comfortable, so stylish, so effortless to wear, so durable (I hope), so simple yet un-boring even when endlessly repeated, I hope I will be looking for the same qualities in any future RTW purchases, and from garments I make myself too. Perhaps I will even go as far as this woman and wear the same outfit every single working day? I doubt it, but I feel I understand the impulse now in a way I didn’t when I first read that article.

What about you, readers? Do any of you wear uniforms (voluntarily or not)? How do you feel about variety vs predictability in dressing?

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❤ H + denim dress 4eva ❤
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2 thoughts on “Self-control 2: eating my words

  1. Hi Hanna,

    I have ruminated on the very issues raised by such a seemingly innocuous decision many times. There is definitely room for balance in amongst the weighty difficulties of ethics, style and utility. I have bought clothes of unknown provenance and maker from high street shops that I have worn to the point of it being little more than a rag; I have also made clothes for myself that have only had a handful of wears because something about it just wasn’t quite right. Which is more ethical ultimately comes down to a personal evaluation of the issues. My inclination, however, is to suggest that the most worn garment wins out. Of course, nothing is straightforward, and this issue is compounded by the tendency of the high street to produce clothes that will not stand up to multiple wears, even if that truly was the intention of the purchaser.

    I think being conscious of the choices one makes and limiting purchases to only those which fulfil a necessity (and being open enough to realise that something may not have crossed your mind as necessary until you’re stood awkwardly in the cold light of the dressing room) is the way forward. Maintaining a limited wardrobe in fabrics, cuts and colours that you return to again and again is the
    holy grail of the sartorially aware.

    The journey to that final, endlessly wearable, garment varies greatly. Sometimes simply buying something is the most sane option. Making a garment comes with its own questions – you will know everything about the conditions it is made under, but what about the fabric? The thread? Any accoutrements? It’s easy to quickly feel overwhelmed. Personally, I try to make the best decisions within my means and skills. This involves sewing most of the tops and dresses I wear, making an effort to source ethical materials where possible, but there’s no way you’d catch me sewing my own jeans. When it comes to buying jeans, I reason that the best outcome is longevity, so fit is everything. As much as I’d love to buy organic or raw denim, if it doesn’t fit well, it won’t be worn. This means, that after a month of torturing myself by trying on every pair of jeans on offer, I end up in Fat Face, buying the same reliable pair of jeans over again.

    Knowing that perfection is unreachable (and undefinable to begin with) all anyone can do is to make the best decision with the information and skills they have. If you wear the denim dress over and over all the while feeling great in it, then that seems to be a well-balanced choice.

    Enjoy the dress!

    I am happy to find other folk out there thinking and talking about such things 🙂

    Kim

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Kim! You put it really well. Another thing which is important for me in this whole affair is charity shopping – I get the majority of my clothes from charity shops, and I send every cast-off in tolerable condition back there again. I find that has really helped me to see my clothes as part of a circulating economy, where they will hopefully be worn many times by many people. I know that’s not necessarily true, and stuff that goes to charity shops ends up in all sorts of places, but at least it has a chance of ending up in someone’s closet who will really love it. It has helped me to learn to let go and be gentle about “wrong” decisions – either shopping or making. We need strategies to deal with sub-ideal outcomes, as well as strategies to make our outcomes ideal. There is a post on Felicia (The Craft Sessions) blog about this kind of issue today, and some interesting comments both there and on Instagram – worth checking out if you have time! x

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