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"Before I gave up shopping, I bought a beautiful, pricey dress. I imagine it's made by a cute girl in Montreal who has to charge a certain price to keep herself in coffee, cigarettes & organic cotton.
August 16, 2012 9:50 PM   Subscribe

Illustrator Sarah Lazarovic replaces clothes shopping with paintings and commentary on the dresses she did not buy.
posted by divabat (42 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not a big shopper, so I couldn't totally relate, but I liked the illustrations. I was caught by her mention of the average American's yearly clothing purchases (60+ items), but it appears to be correct, and has about doubled in the last decade or so. That's a lot of cheap clothing. And it's an average, so for every person like me is balanced by people who shop and shop and shop.
posted by Forktine at 10:13 PM on August 16, 2012


"Stab me with a high minded sewing needle." Now that's a good sentence.
Cool post ...
posted by Isadorady at 10:52 PM on August 16, 2012


I honestly don't know if this trick would work for me. Maybe it also depends on how good of an artist you are?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:33 PM on August 16, 2012


Ugh, this made me want to go shopping. I recently moved back home and am fascinated by the hoard of ugly, ugly clothes I collected during high school. None of it is fashionable or flattering (think piles of cheap turtlenecks and shapeless past-the-knee skirts) and I am so psyched to throw it away, but it also makes me want to buy a thousand things to replace it all. At least I found this psychotic homemade dress that looks like it's made out of a 1970s sofa and all my vintage Goodwill skirts?

Anyway, yeah, cheap, disposable clothing. Her illustrations are nice.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:56 PM on August 16, 2012


In the style of Maira Kalman
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:03 AM on August 17, 2012


Cheap disposable clothing - it is the American Way. Note the tiny closets in old houses. People simply did not have so many clothes as we routinely do now. The average woman has 30 pairs of shoes? For one pair of feet?
(Yes, I have at least 30 pairs of shoes; I don't want to go count them)
posted by Cranberry at 12:07 AM on August 17, 2012


I was ready to snort at your 30 pairs, but a quick mental review tells me that I have close to half that myself, and I'm a man. Between everyday shoes, nice shoes, running shoes, sandals, boots, work shoes etc the closet sure fills up quickly.

And as many others point out, the illustrations are nice.
posted by Harald74 at 12:28 AM on August 17, 2012


Isn't she confusing "shopping" with "buying"? I mean I look at clothes all the time which I have no intention of buying, but I'd never deny it isn't shopping to browse the racks.
posted by three blind mice at 1:04 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is lovely! Thanks so much for sharing, divabat.
posted by bluefly at 3:08 AM on August 17, 2012


I see a dress that makes me imagine a million lives I could lead in it. I worry I'll never see something so perfect again. Then I remember a dress in my closet that looks pretty similar.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:55 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really needed this. I'm a recovering packrat who has to clean their closet out in preparation for a big move next year. I am a pain in the ass to buy for - I am a non-standard shape/size in pretty much every way possible, and liking colours means it's harder for things to match, so if I see a pair of shoes in a size US12 and they match my skirt, it's hard to pass up - and some medication weight gain and turning thirty and realising that I can't dress like a teenager anymore makes it an irritatingly emotive, rather than practical issue.

The bit about seeing something and imagining a million lives really struck a chord with me. In the past, when my life hasn't quite been what I wanted to be, I've bought things to 'save' for when I have that job/that flat/that boyfriend. And then I change my mind about the colour, or it doesn't fit in the new place, or it gets damaged or goes off, and I probably could have got on fine without it, or indeed preferred the later, more me thing that I found later, and I would have had that money in the bank. But the 'disposable' thing is a remarkable trick to get people like me, people who worry about passing up opportunities, to open their purses. Even higher end stores on the high street emphasise the fact that if you don't buy it now, it'll be replaced with something else next week. You can't browse one day and presume it will be there to buy the next. And once you own something, even with receipt in hand, it becomes a possession, an investment in time and money. (In the UK you can't return cosmetics, not even if they're unopened and you have a receipt. This makes me think a lot more carefully about buying things that might not be right.)

And for women especially, whose bodies will change because of childbirth, pregnancy, the Pill, taking up running or getting really into baking cakes, 'classics' seem a bit pointless when you could spend that money on three thigns that fit you now. The same principle means we should hoard less and just keep what fits, but it doesn't work that way.

(Plus 'classics' aren#t so for everyone. Not only is a white shirt or a black suit not guaranteed to look right forever - think of the pointed huge collars of the 70s, or the double-breasted suit jackets of the 80s/early 90s - but they actually don't suit everyone. I don't look great in black, but really suit teal - if teal happens to be in fashion this year, that's excellent, but if it happens to be purple or pink, no shopping for me.)
posted by mippy at 4:06 AM on August 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


The profusion of choice puts me off

This, I like. I have kind of a low threshold for shopping (although I do enjoy accompanying a determined shopper), and, often enough, when faced with a whole bunch of similar things, I just get kind of overloaded and depressed and go home without buying anything.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:39 AM on August 17, 2012


But the 'disposable' thing is a remarkable trick to get people like me, people who worry about passing up opportunities, to open their purses.

It's not so much of a trick, I think, than a response to consumer demand. I recently read a book published 1908 about textile manufacturing in the US (it had an interesting cover) written by an Englishman who deplored the "disposable" nature of American clothing. Believing it to be a result of inferior American manufacturing, he toured plants in New England and found that the technology in them, and the people running them, exceeded that of the best factories in England. He was forced to concede that the difference was due to the matter of style:

"An Englishman", he wrote and I am paraphrasing from memory, "would wear the same suit for a decade. Threadbare as though it may become he would wear it proudly because even in its worn state it would indicate quality. Americans on the other hand demand a new set of clothes every year. Their wish is to be current. And they see no reason to invest in something that will last ten years when they only wish to keep it for one."

Maybe years has gone to months, but it seems American consumer demand is pretty much the same as it has always been.
posted by three blind mice at 4:47 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The average American buys 68 items of clothing a year? I don't think I've done that over the last 5 years, even if we count every sock individually. I came to work today in a polo that I'm fairly certain dates back to the late 90s.
posted by COD at 5:17 AM on August 17, 2012


At age twenty-five, if you've grown neither wider nor lumpier, you have a clothes palette.

At age twenty-five (and working at software companies), I have a bunch of t-shirts and a pair of jeans. And a few dresses to wear to friends' weddings, and a few ignored blouses and skirts. And an occasional worried feeling that I am making a mistake by dressing like this. I don't think there's any way to win.
posted by dreamyshade at 5:22 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, three blind mice, you might be right. I remember as a child that clothes came into the shops each season and stayed the same until it got cold. The fast fashion thing is a fairly recent phenomenon. Supermarket and budget clothing was always there, but it was seen as inferior to the point where you could get mocked at school for having purchased things from certain stores. Then Primark opened. In the late 90s Topshop was very much a store for teenagers - it then got noticed by the fash pack and the prices went up to the point that even a grown-up lady with a job thinks they're fairly expensive. A chain opened up selling dresses for £10 and shoes for £6, things that were designed to last for about the same time as the trend they were part of did, and all the teenagers who couldn't spend £40 on a top headed over there.

The Average American shows the confusion of averages. I know people who are still wearing the society T-shirts they were given as students ten years ago, and I know people who have 137 pairs of shoes. And given pregnancy is pretty common and can change one's size dramatically, along with people gaining and losing weight, I can easily see how this figure would arise. I'm not the same size I was when I was eighteen, and even if I was, I'd look really odd wearing those clothes now. That probably says more about women's clothing than clothing as a whole, mind.
posted by mippy at 5:25 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What did women in previous ages do about pregnancy? Were the dresses that they wore more practical for that than our jeans? Obviously not the elaborate corsetted things, but the average peasant, could she keep wearing her wardrobe during pregnancy and after, when she still felt bloated and oversized and had to deal with balloon breasts (that she had to whip out every couple of hours) for a year? Were there a small stock of maternity clothes shared among all the women of the village? (If they were to fit women of all different sizes, they must've been more like maternity ponchos). Or did they just sew themselves one or two new dresses and wear them every single day?
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:40 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dying in childbirth a lot would probably solve the breastfeeding problem.
posted by mippy at 5:43 AM on August 17, 2012


(I mean, especially since with no birth control, they would've been pregnant a lot more often...)
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:43 AM on August 17, 2012


This is a pretty good overview of maternity wear. Remember that women were pregnant more often, so a maternity-specific dress would be worn more often than nowadays.

I think we can assume that, at least in the lower classes, they would lend around maternity dresses if needed - charity clothes donation has a long history.
posted by muddgirl at 5:49 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maternity clothes in history: HuffPo, Pinterest board, short essay, Colonial Williamsburg.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:52 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


At age twenty-five, if you've grown neither wider nor lumpier, you have a clothes palette.

Yes, this assumes that you didn't gain any weight between 18 and 25 -- and also that you didn't spend your teens and early twenties buying only thirft-store stuff and that only the necessaries, because you were poor/cheap.

also, does anyone have trousers that last more than a few years? If I'm wearing them a few days a week, my trousers wear out in 1-2 years, regardless of quality. Skirts last longer, because there is no rubbing.
posted by jb at 6:01 AM on August 17, 2012


Or did they just sew themselves one or two new dresses and wear them every single day?

Well, that's what the not-pregnant people did.
posted by jb at 6:05 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly do not understand the impulse to simply "shop". To browse and buy stuff without any actual need. The idea that one has to go on a "shopping diet" seems more like a sign that you have a real psychological/emotional problem.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:12 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, it doesn't seem any different than how many people use the internet nowadays, and even more specifically Metafilter. How many people over the years have half-jokingly complained that they wasted a whole day consuming web articles, time they could have spent doing something more productive.

I've been, sometimes at the same time, an over-shopper and an over-internetter, and the mental state feels the same. I think over-grazing is really part of the human condition - it just strikes people differently - some people can't put a book down, some browse seed catalogs, some are buying way more craft materials then they can use, some are putting more movies on their Neflix queue than they can watch in a lifetime, and so on. It is rare to find a complete ascetic.
posted by muddgirl at 6:21 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I honestly do not understand the impulse to simply "shop". To browse and buy stuff without any actual need. The idea that one has to go on a "shopping diet" seems more like a sign that you have a real psychological/emotional problem.

There are at least two answers to this. Let's start with the pathological:

When I am feeling kind of low, I find I am attracted to the idea of going out and buying stuff. It's a pretty strong impulse. Now, I am fairly careful, so I don't get too much buyer's remorse, although I need to prune my books pretty severely, but I find it interesting how strong this impulse is. Also, how transient it is. If I can delay the purchase, I often find I don't want the item later (or don't want it as much), so I have relied on a pattern of waiting through several cycles of wanting a particular item before I let myself buy it. I assume other people have variations on this urge, and use it as a kind of self medication.

The other, healthier approach, is I have known a number of people who are very careful shoppers -- they go out looking for, say, a blouse and a pair of slacks for a particular outfit. They are willing to go to many many stores looking for the right items, and they are not going to settle for things that don't match their needs. This is a pretty reasonable approach to shopping, I think, especially if you have more time than money.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:25 AM on August 17, 2012


What I like to do is wait until sewing patterns go on sale for cheap, and then I buy a half-dozen patterns and while away the hours reading the instructions and imagine sewing them.

Needless to say, I have many unfinished sewing projects (garments and quilts) stashed away in assorted boxes and drawers.
posted by The Sprout Queen at 6:36 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can drill down and find exactly what I like. And the internet responds. If I look at something once, it teases me for weeks on end. "Hey dork, stop being so coy, buy this dress," it shouts from a box to the left of the serious article about Sudan I've been trying to absorb.
Oh god, haha. Yes. Yes. When late night Zappos browsing comes back to haunt you two weeks later it is so god damn creepy. Or even just checking out how much stuff costs and then seeing ads for chairs and blenders pop up again and again and again. I don't even use that much google crap, but it still assiduously tracks my every. single. click.

p.s. this is pretty great
posted by kavasa at 6:38 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really loved this because I do the same thing, mostly because I've really never had the money or the nerve to spend lots on any kind of clothing I want. Internet "shopping" is a fun, cheap exercise in fantasy and day-dreaming, similar to the escape offered by certain types of literature.

The idea that one has to go on a "shopping diet" seems more like a sign that you have a real psychological/emotional problem.


Sometimes the "diet" is forced. I'm finishing up grad school right now and I'm completely broke. I can't remember the last time I went on a regular old shopping trip, and I miss just being able to buy decent underwear without worrying that I'll take food from my own mouth to do it. Think of browsing like cooking a big meal and then suddenly not feeling so hungry when you're done, because all the smells have temporarily fooled your brain into thinking you've eaten. It's kind of like that.
posted by sundaydriver at 6:51 AM on August 17, 2012


When I am feeling kind of low, I find I am attracted to the idea of going out and buying stuff.

Yeah, a lot of the time it's a distraction, and although distractions aren't the healthiest way to deal with problems, they are usually relatively harmless.
posted by muddgirl at 6:58 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly do not understand the impulse to simply "shop". To browse and buy stuff without any actual need. The idea that one has to go on a "shopping diet" seems more like a sign that you have a real psychological/emotional problem.

Comparing the content of men's and women's magazines is an interesting exercise. Here, we have two free ones, published by the same company, given out on the tube. The men's one is funny, has articles about filmstars or books or health problems from the point of view of being able to kickbox or run a race. The women's one has two opening pages which are set out like a catalogue of stuff to buy - clothing, makeup, cookery items, the very odd gadget - and then a number of other articles about What X Is Like If You Are A Woman, healthfrom the point of view of either maintaining one's figure or indulgence (detoxes, massages etc.) and then some more pages on things to buy/wear this week.

This is one of the many reasons I no longer buy women's magazines. (I did buy the Vogue September issue this week as, being as it's about as relevant to my daily life as the events of 1001 Nights, it would be something fun and escapist to read in the bath after some hard work I've got on my plate this weekend.) The amount of social conditioning to persuade women to shop - that it's a fun leisure activity, that you should want to wear heels or designer label X, that this bag is the one people should have if they want to be taken seriously or seen as up to the minute, that you need to look great all the time, even first thing in the morning if you're with a man, that you can't be fat but you also can't be too thin and here's what you can wear to help - is really unfathomable to those who aren't female. You can avoid it by completely withdrawing and limiting your shopping to food and replacing something if it breaks, but if you are in an industry that requires a certain type of presentability or if you happen to be someone who loves clothing rather than fashion, and even if you are a perfectly intelligent woman, it's hard not to be sucked in. Even if these days you're only faced with the choice of something made in a cheap fabric and cut slightly too short.
posted by mippy at 7:20 AM on August 17, 2012


I should start by saying that it's entirely possible that I own a hundred dresses. I can't say for sure because I'm afraid to count, but whatever the number it's a high one.

That said, I haaaaate fast fashion. I buy secondhand almost exclusively, and I buy for quality. Probably about two-thirds of my wardrobe is vintage, at this point. I shop thrift stores and estate sales, and the most I'll pay for a new-to-me item of clothing is maybe $30. And that's for something I'm going to keep-- if I'm buying for resale, which is usually the case, I won't pay more than $15 for a dress, and it has to be a really nice dress.

It took me a long time to figure out that I enjoy clothes, and fashion, and shopping. Growing up I wore jeans and t-shirts exclusively, thought performing femininity was for suckers, and hated the mall like fire. I still hate the mall like fire, but I've come around on dressing like a girl. I don't think I've worn pants in a year.

It's worth being thoughtful about what clothes you buy, I think, because so much of our self-presentation is wrapped up in what you wear. I used to think the way I dressed was neutral, but it wasn't. I just wasn't the one in control of the messages I sent with my clothes. Now the way I dress is very deliberate, and I feel a hell of a lot more confident about myself.

I do have moments of 'holy fuck I own too many clothes,' though. Because holy fuck, I own a lot of clothes.
posted by nonasuch at 7:22 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think we can assume that, at least in the lower classes, they would lend around maternity dresses if needed - charity clothes donation has a long history.

I totally remember that line from Ramona Forever (one of the Ramona Quimby books) which I read a million times in my youth:
"a neighborhood only really needs one dress up maternity dress."
posted by bluefly at 7:50 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love fashion. I love it in the way some people love movies, or food, or stamp collecting or science. I'm fascinated by the art, craft and process of getting dressed. I like to joke sometimes that I have fashion the way other people have eating disorders. But when I read something like this, I wonder if it isn't the rest of the world that has the eating disorder:

I see a dress that makes me imagine a million lives I could lead in it. I worry I'll never see something so perfect again. Then I remember a dress in my closet that looks pretty similar.

So why the fuck aren't you going out and leading a million lives in the one you have in your closet?? I can sort of understand where she's coming from, but she's got the whole thing back to front. Lady, if you want to find any kind of pleasure in getting dressed, you dedicate yourself with patience and discipline to finding the right pieces that suit your personality and lifestyle. You don't shop indiscriminately for duplicates of things you already have and don't wear. You work at developing the eye of a connoisseur and the mind of a curator. There's a quote from Ms. Prada to the effect that the only way to be really well-dressed is to study the subject, and who am I to argue with that?

This idea that clothing is at once a route to self actualization and an entirely disposable commodity is so heinous it's almost absurd. How can you find any kind of fulfillment in the acquisition of something that will be irrelevant within months, weeks, days even? I think I've bought maybe twenty items in the last year, some quite pricey, and it feels a little extravagant, but every single one of them suits me, has a space in my wardrobe and will stay there for a few years to come. Right now, I'm wearing last year's blouse, and shorts and shoes from about four years ago. It all feels current, it all feels like me. I'd much rather dip into my wardrobe for a new combination of things I love than challenge myself to find anything I like as much from the rubbish in the shops.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think I've worn pants in a year,

I've even done the drag king thing (but not passing - thanks for those hips, god), but recently I'm so into skirts. I think that if men in western countries tried wearing skirts - especially longer ones that don't ride up or flash anything - they would be converts. So cool in the summer - there's a reason that skirts are de rigeur for both sexes in the middle east. And surprisingly warm in winter, especially if layered with tights and/or petticoats - warmer than any trousers I have.

That said, I appreciate pants for certain times (cycling, any kind of construction/clambering about, etc) - and I think the perfect world will be one where women aren't required to wear skirts all the time, and men aren't required to wear pants all the time, but can chose as suits the occasion. Also, almost every man looks better in knee length full skirts, aka kilts. It's just very flattering to the leg.
posted by jb at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking about this sort of thing a lot lately. The proliferation of fashion and beauty blogs, Pinterest, the vintage-inspired pretty-dress trend, the idea of "curating" a wardrobe instead of just owning clothes, and so on, all seem to have come about as I've been kinda ramping down my focus on appearance. I'm cool with the idea of wearing jeans and flannels all the time, but my job doesn't allow it, and sometimes I look in the mirror and think "this combination of clothes I have on... is not so great actually." So I vow to dress myself better, and I go shopping and think "I do not understand how these things become an outfit" and it just takes so much time and makes me feel like there is some fundamental component of dressing myself that I have just failed to get.

And there's so much implied identity wrapped up in clothing, like the right outfit will transform you into a business executive or a Swedish art director or a burlesque dancer or an elf priestess or a manic pixie dream girl or just the new and improved you. And the tricky thing is, when I shop for clothes, I've stopped looking at all the things I could be and started looking at all the things I know I do not want to be. I do not want to be trendy, or powerful, or sexy, or dainty, or whimsical. I do want to be a new improved me, it's just that I can't find the clothes that say exactly that.

My paradox is that I want to look good without looking like I care about looking good. Unless you're one of those naturally luminous people who could manage to look good after a three-week hospital stay, this is surprisingly hard to do. The nonchalant look is a costume, too. Besides, of course I care. In many ways, I'm pickier as a low-maintenance dresser than I was when I had entire malls' worth of personae to consider.

Occasionally I find something perfect. Usually I just find myself in a fitting room wearing a mishmash of overpriced fail, at which point I yell "ACK!" and skitter sideways out of the frame and into a pair of sweatpants.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:01 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


For me, I think mippy hit the nail on the head with this one:
And for women especially, whose bodies will change because of childbirth, pregnancy, the Pill, taking up running or getting really into baking cakes, 'classics' seem a bit pointless when you could spend that money on three things that fit you now. The same principle means we should hoard less and just keep what fits, but it doesn't work that way.
Even if all of the above hasn't happened, the threat is there, too. Why spend the money on nice, quality clothes that fit you now when in the next year or five you could get pregnant or finally lose/gain that weight or unfortunately lose/gain that weight?

I remember reading that issue in National Geographic about the polygamists in Utah and secretly envying the dresses those women wore. Photo gallery here. Loosely fitting dresses with a well placed belt that you can tighten or loosen as the need fits and the waist-line high enough to accommodate growing or shrinking bellies and hips and legs.

And as a person who still cannot do a french-braid in her own hair, I'm also jealous of their fantastically complex hair braiding and wrapping.
posted by jillithd at 9:23 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


And there's so much implied identity wrapped up in clothing, like the right outfit will transform you into a business executive or a Swedish art director or a burlesque dancer or an elf priestess or a manic pixie dream girl or just the new and improved you.

So with all these options open to us, we should be able to put on a costume or disguise and expect a magical transformation, right? Even on a good day, that's a bit much to ask of even the finest designer clothing. Still, this is what we persist in believing, because it is so easy to look at all of these potential identities, and imagine ourselves trying them out, as if the clothes really do maketh the man. But again, this idea is back to front, because we should be conferring our identities on the clothes, and not the other way about.

We can't ever ask an outfit to truly transform us, but the right clothes can and should support our day to day endeavors, making us feel confident and comfortable and just like ourselves, doing our thing, in whatever company we happen to be, and not trying to look like somebody else's construct. If the influence is burlesque, or Swedish, or just plain low maintenance, the art is knowing how to translate that successfully into daily life, at work and at play.

Fast fashion makes it very, very hard to do this for all the reasons above and then some, but it makes it even harder to opt out, because in the end, it's just endless permutations of these sterile, inauthentic personae served up for expendable consumption.

My paradox is that I want to look good without looking like I care about looking good

See, this just doesn't happen. Nobody over the age of 25 looks good by accident. You either care, you don't care, or or you have a SO who cares about it for you.

Occasionally I find something perfect

Hold that thought. It's only occasionally, but those are the things you should be looking for. Don't settle for less.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 4:09 PM on August 17, 2012


My paradox is that I want to look good without looking like I care about looking good

"looking good" has many different definitions.

I urge you to define it for yourself...not only including cost at purchase, what it costs to maintain (i.e., machine wash vs dry clean-only), and what your workplace requirements are (here in California we are very casual, though I do miss the fussy dressing of NYC, ensuring there was a matching bag & coat to go with the shoes, etc). I highly recommend _Your Money 0r Your Life_ a book on aligning your values with what you spend money on.

Now that I have disposable income (in my 40's), it seems like most clothing for women being sold these days is uber-trendy and targeted to teens in style & color.

For example, I tried to shop at Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale a few weeks back, and I left with literally nothing (I was ready to buy). But the color combinations (teal and brown, anyone?), styles (80's color block dresses and 70's peasant blouses) were,in a word, repellent.

I'm still young, but the clothing manufacturers just want me to go all Eileen Fisher already (which I think of as for the over-50 set).
posted by Pocahontas at 4:55 PM on August 17, 2012


Don't settle for less

Unfortunately, nudity is frowned upon in our society, not to mention at my workplace. Maybe we should make home ec. a requirement in school again, for boys and girls, so people who grow up to have non-standard body shapes can get clothes that fit (in every definition of the word, and please don't suggest a tailor because I'm not an idiot) without endlessly shopping.
posted by muddgirl at 5:01 PM on August 17, 2012


Maybe we should make home ec. a requirement in school again, for boys and girls,

This isn't such a bad idea. I'm all for people taking control of production and modification, because it's what I do myself. Sewing machines are neither expensive nor difficult to use, so if you have the time and the inclination, it's a low barrier to entry.

so people who grow up to have non-standard body shapes

That would be everyone. Really. And physical size has absolutely nothing to do with it. Don't imagine that everyone under a US12 is magically finding great duds that fit perfectly. On the other hand, I know a fair few larger women who always look fabulous, because they know exactly how they want to look, and spend time hunting down clothes that work for them.

can get clothes that fit (in every definition of the word, and please don't suggest a tailor because I'm not an idiot)

I know, with the current state of ready to wear, very often alterations just aren't worth the effort, right? Why take the trouble on poorly constructed clothing if it's not going to last the season? But there are always exceptions if you're willing look for them, so there's nothing wrong with going to a tailor if the piece is worth it.

I think a lot of people assume that because things don't fit them off the rack, it's their fault for having a non-standard body, which isn't the case at all. I also suspect that pretty much everyone settles at some point on things that don't quite fit. And the quality of design in most shops is so poorly thought out at larger sizes that any woman larger than a B-cup is going to struggle.

without endlessly shopping.

It's the only way, and it's unfortunate. There are no shortcuts. As others have pointed out above, there's a difference between shopping and buying stuff, so if you can enjoy the process of looking at what's about, and developing a clear idea of what's going to work, the process is far more enjoyable and rewarding.

But ultimately, the default fast fashion model of rapid seasonal turnaround isn't built to support a meaningful definition of personal style. I don't have a good answer to this, only that in my experience, it's well worth hunting down those things that are perfect *for you*, buying far fewer of them, and paying a bit extra for great quality when you can.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 2:39 AM on August 18, 2012


I asked not to mention a tailor because I already have one, and take many items there already. I don't browse, and I don't tend to buy 'fast fashion.' But not buying fast fashion tends to make the time-spent-shopping per item-bought ratio higher, not lower.
posted by muddgirl at 5:23 AM on August 18, 2012


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