Do you rememer the last time you bought a piece of clothing? What was it? Why did you buy it? Where did it come from?
I realised the other day that I can answer exactly none of these questions.
The weird thing is, I haven’t been making a concerted effort to avoid clothes shopping; it just sort of happened. One minute I was entranced by the idea of hunting out retro-looking garments in unsuspecting stores and the next minute… well, I wasn’t. In fact, these days, my idea of clothes shopping looks a little like this:
I call it ‘shopping in bits’. Or ‘shopping for the extreme future’. In the image above, you can see a pussy-bow shirt, parts of two dresses and the planning stages of three more garments. In fact, I’ve already assigned some fabric to the dress in front and am formulating plans for a bold exposed zip as we speak. (Actually, now I think of it, I should check the pattern and make sure it calls for a centred back zip and not a side one, or my exposed zip plans may be in ruins.)
All talk of zips aside, somehow I’ve turned into someone who’s determined to make everything she wears, with the notable exception of shoes. My hand-knitted socks are slowly taking over my sock drawer and my hand-made garments will soon be doing the same to my wardrobe, thanks to my Delightful Dozen Project. My hand-knitted cardigan and cotton top will presently be joined by a new cardigan and I even have plans to delve into undergarments (sewn, not knitted), what with an op-shopped book about making your own lingerie and a pattern for undies. I’ve even bookmarked a Craftsy class on bra making, which I’ll buy the second it goes on sale.*
How did it come to this, though? I thought I’d share some of the ways I’ve managed to change my mindset in the space of a few months, just in case you’re tempted to join in.
1. Develop a healthy dislike of your local shopping centre.
This has been made even easier than normal for me, thanks to extensive building work going on at our nearest shopping centre. The carparks are filled with crazy people and walking there takes forever. I don’t like shopping centres at the best of times, but this one has become roughly a million times worse. The way I see it, if you’re not in a shopping centre, then you’re not being tempted by things you probably don’t need.
2. Learn the difference between want and need.
This can be a tough one. Sometimes, I’ll convince myself I absolutely need that new basket for my bike or the companion book for the Great British Sewing Bee, but when I really sit down and think about it, I realise I just want them. A lot. It can be very hard to say no to yourself at times.
3. Have a wardrobe that’s too full to fit anything new.
Obviously, this isn’t an ideal situation, but it certainly helps when trying to hold yourself back from adding items to said wardrobe. I seem to have been on a subconscious mission to fill my wardrobe over the past few years; now I have grand plans to get rid of most of it.
4. Take up hobbies that cut into shopping time.
Sewing and knitting are good ones, for obvious reasons. There are plenty of things I’d rather do than spend an hour or so in the shops, up to and including having pins stabbed in my eyes. Fortunately, I tend to choose more enjoyable pursuits such as getting lost in a good book or going on a random adventure with the Chef and my camera.
5. Wear a garment that is made to fit you and you alone.
Seriously. It’s a revelation. A waist that sits on my actual waistline? A dress that fits without being either too big or too small in one place and the opposite in another? You’ll never go back to ready-to-wear after that; it’s like putting on clothes that have been made for someone else.
That seems to be how I’ve fallen into this habit of not buying new clothes. Complete clothes, at least. I’m still spending money on clothing components and have proven incapable of resisting the siren call of Spotlight’s three-patterns-for-$10 offer. It’s such a bargain, though – at least two of the patterns in the photo were over $20 each at normal price. Yes, it all means I have to wait a lot longer for a new dress, but the closet hipster in me loves being part of this slow living movement.
Meanwhile, my cats saw me taking photos for the blog and couldn’t understand why my subject was lacking in cat. They fixed this error for me. So helpful.
Cats always know best when it comes to sewing.
What do you think about the idea of sticking to op shopped or handmade clothes? Let me know in the comments!
* In a weird coincidence, the bra making course went on sale today, which inevitably resulted in my spending money just after writing a blog post about not spending money.