Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Price of Fashion

Been shopping for clothes lately?  If you have, then you may have also noticed the price tags and, unless your idea of couture is Walmart, you would have also noticed that decently constructed, quality clothes cost a bit more than a few shiny pennies.  I'm not even talking Armani or Dior here.  No, I'm talkin' regular ol' department store types like Ann Taylor, White House Black Market, Gap, and Abercrombie.  Over a $150 for a dress--are you kidding me?  $98 for capri's--yeah, right.  (And no, the sparkle isn't worth the extra $50.)  Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm all for stores making profits, employing people, and marketing their products (and I do love some of their products), but if you're feeling the pinch in the pocket book, then you understand exactly how I feel--like highway robbery is occuring.  So what's a girl to do?

Well, going naked is definitely out--there's just some things no one should have to see.  So that leaves you with three main options--pay their outrageous prices, give up and buy from less expensive sources, or get your talent on and make your own couture!  Now, you know I'm not about to pay those prices.  There's just no way--not with my budget (I'm funding my eternal collection of fabric and my border collie would disown me if I stopped the supply of biscuits). 

Less expensive sources can include thrift stores (find the ones near richer areas, better stuff), discount stores like Walmart and Target, eBay (look for NWOT--new without tags) and clearance racks (watch for those 60% off lowest prices days).  Of course, if you're like me and not an average sized individual in some way, you may find it tricky to find well fitting, classy and inexpensive all at once in the same garment.  I love eBay for this purpose--quickly search for specifics without dragging yourself all over town and a huge selection which is really nice when you live in a small town and the thrift stores are limited.  Of course, with some basic sewing skills your options are much greater.  You don't need to be able to construct a handsewn silk wedding gown either.  Simple skills like sewing buttons and knowing how to do proper hems can open opportunities in what ready-to-wear (RTW) will fit and look good, and it only grows from there.  Imagine finding pants that fit perfectly in the waist and hips, but they're too long (it seems like all pants are made for the women's basketball team).  Suddenly those hemming skills come to the rescue.  My mom found brand new jeans at Christopher & Banks for $9.99 and with a 1 inch hem adjustment, they'll fit perfectly.  And who can argue with $10 jeans--you'd have a hard time making a pair for that!

Which brings me to the last option--make your own clothes.  Many view sewing as some sort of mysterious cult of grandmothers--knowledge passed on secretly to the next generation only when deemed worthy...but really, it's not as hard as it looks.  And, with a little creativity, it's not as expensive either.  Did you know that JoAnn's (a fabric and craft store) puts patterns on sale every month?  I just bought 10 Simplicity patterns for a $1 each.  Most fabric stores also have a clearance area.  My favorite source for the inexpensive is thrift stores and auctions.  Sure, you'll have to sort through a ton of double knit polyester (that stuff will still be around when cockroaches inherit the earth) and most of the patterns are vintage--but, the right vintage is back in and sometimes, in between the orange paisleys and scratchy grandma fabrics, you'll find a sweet deal on some fabric that is worth having. 

Sure, I love high quality fabric--and its worth it for those wardrobe staples or really important outfits that you want to put the time into.  After all, how much would you have to pay for a custom fit and design.  Still, its nice to have some wardrobe pieces that you don't invest too heavily in--such as trendy seasonal pieces or learning items.  If I haven't made a pattern before, sometimes its worth creating a "wearable muslin" or a test in cheaper fabric so that I don't mess up the good stuff.  If it works out, great, another item to wear--and if not, I'm not crying over ruined silk.

So, you're probably wondering if you really can get a handmade item on the cheap--so I'll prove it too you.  (Whenever possible, in the future, I'll list my sources and prices.)  Here's the jacket I made for an online sewing class I took through Pattern Review (it was the Stitch and Flip Jacket class with Shannon Gifford).  People want to know where I bought it.  The key--careful construction and proper pressing equals professional results.  Then wear your handmade custom item with your RTW and it will blend right in, no one will guess.

Supply/Cost List:
Denim fabric, local senior center thrift store, $2.00 (and there's enough left over for a skirt or something)
Floral cotton fabric, mom's stash--traded for taking ebay photos, $2.00 (leftovers for a future project too)
Metal floral buttons, Joann's 50% off, $4.78
Fusible Interfacing, Palmer Pletch, $7.95 for whole pkg, used around 1/4--$2.50 (lots of leftover for future projects)
Thread, personal stash
Pattern, JoAnn's sale, $1.99 (check out my reviews in the right column)

Total:  $13.27

Oh yeah, baby--even on my budget $13.27 is totally doable.  The best part--it fits perfectly!
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1 comment:

  1. Once again, you are a wizard at the craft! It looks amazing.


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