Friday, October 30, 2015

Slow Fashion October Thoughts

Even though I didn't really participate in Slow Fashion October nor have I completed any of the unofficial prompts, this whole movement has made me think a lot about me personally, as a consumer: what I choose to wear, buy, and make help define who I am. While I'm not anywhere close to having a closet full of handmade clothing, I like the idea of being conscious about the quality of the items I own.
I should begin by mentioning how full my closest is, it's stuffed actually. Because of my lack of space and in an effort to watch my spending, I haven't gone "shopping" in over a year. That is to say I haven't gone on a shopping spree in a long time. I have definitely bought new clothing over the past year, but I can guarantee that most months I didn't buy any apparel or accessories. There have been times where I truly needed new things, and times where I really, really wanted a particular item that I have gone shopping with specific articles in mind. In the past, I would go shopping to cure boredom, find a top that I liked, and purchase it in several different colors just because I could. This worked alright for awhile because my size was always changing which gave me a good reason to clean out my closest often. But now that my measurements are pretty consistent, going on shopping sprees isn't the best way to spend my time or money.

I don't mind the idea of frivolous shopping like that if I was able to afford new clothes all the time and if I had the space to store said items. However, currently my budget doesn't allow me to go wild while shopping, and I have an insanely difficult time saying goodbye to my beloved belongings so I never free up closest space for new clothes. A few months ago I did go through my closest and got rid of a few items, but I still have a long way to go.
Although my shopping habits have significantly decreased throughout the past year, I did sew for myself a lot more than I ever have. Over the year, I sewed myself several tops and dresses mostly out of fabrics I already had stashed. Some of these tops and dresses are made a lot better than others and therefore get worn more often, and others I refer to as practice pieces which are okay too. I like the idea of making things for myself to get the best fit possible, so that it's essentially tailored to my own body. I also (usually) enjoy sewing; create a garment out of a flat piece of fabric is just amazing to think about. Choosing the exact shape, adding details, and just fine-tuning pieces are things I really appreciate in handmade clothing that it makes me want to have a completely me-made wardrobe.

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I love looking at all of the hand knit items. It makes me so giddy just thinking about how people wear complete outfits made solely by them. I want to be that person! I have tons of scarves and shawls that I've knit for myself in the past, and they get worn a lot during the winter. I also have several pairs of socks that either I or Lauren knit for me, that I appreciate a lot more than I had before. This summer I knit my first sweater and I received a hand knit sweater from Lauren recently, both of which will be worn a lot in the next few months. I feel like I'm really starting to understand the joy handmade items bring to people, and I'm loving it. I now want to knit tons of socks in the prettiest (neutral colored) yarn to keep my feet warm and pretty!
Even though I sadly haven't sewn at all this month, I've thought a lot about what I want my overall wardrobe to look like. What if some random person were to come over to my apartment and look inside my closest, what would they think? Does what I own and wear successfully reflect the real me? Probably not. In the past I would buy clothes (and yarn and fabric) because the colors were so bright and pretty, but in reality I much prefer to adorn myself in grays, white, navy, browns, and black clothing. Although sometimes boring to look at, I love wearing neutral colors and I need to remember that for future clothing items.

Although shopping and spending lots of money is fun, I rather have a smaller wardrobe where I absolutely love everything in it, than one full to the brim with so-so items. Quality over quantity. Because I still have tons of fabric and yarn, I don't plan on buying anymore soon, even though the majority of what I have doesn't adhere to my style. I want to use a lot of what I have before I go and store more stuff into my already crammed apartment. Whether I use what I already own to make stuff for myself or friends/family, I want to make a good dent in what I have in an effort not to hoard anymore stuff that goes unused. Additionally, I don't have any grand plans to buy much ready-to-wear clothing in the near future. I know there will be times where I see something I love that I can't stop thinking about that I just need to buy, but for the most part, I have everything I need already.
Months ago the capsule wardrobe idea seemed like something that I would like to incorporate. But I never moved past the idea stage, mainly because of the storage issue. Although I have a long way to go, I want to work towards having the perfect (for me) wardrobe. I know the first step is letting go of many items I already own, and I'm very slowly working on that. Achieving that perfect, mostly me-made wardrobe truly excites me though and motivates me to make changes. As the girl who considered shopping a hobby in high school and spent many weekends hanging at the mall with friends, greatly cutting back on this habit already seems like so much progress. Right now for me, the concept of slow fashion means creating special items for myself that I love to look at and wear, while honing in on what exactly it is that I need/want to complete this wardrobe. Eventually, perhaps I may get so good at this that I take it one step further and want only fabrics/yarn produced in socially responsible places, but for right now I want to focus on the garments themselves.
I have a running list of what I want to sew out of each fabric I have, and what I want to knit out of many of the yarn skeins I own. While I want everything to already be done, I know that part of the excitement in having a handmade wardrobe is in the making itself. I'll take my time and make each item perfect for me instead of adding yet another okay garment to my closest. It feels great to get all these thoughts out of my head and onto something a little more tangible!

All of the pictures in this post are of my Tribal Print Pretty Blouse. The first half are in-progress photos, and last two are of my completely finished top. I started sewing this blouse at least five years ago and never finished. Earlier this year I picked this project back up, unpicked all the seams, and started over from the very beginning. I wasn't happy with what my original top was going to look like, so I began again. It's all a process.