19 July 2009

157. Sustainable: My Buy New (Clothing) Manifesto

My lucky streak is still going: I recently won a giveaway on Keiko Lynn's blog -- an $80 gift certificate to ModCloth.com! Out of some 433-ish entrants! What are the odds? (I ask that rhetorically, but if you love to figure out that sort of thing and want to tell me, that's awesome!)

When I found out I won the gift certificate (thanks ModCloth and Keiko Lynn!!!), I went straight to the site to browse around. They have so much to choose from, and most of it is more than reasonably priced. Since I've been sewing and refashioning so much, I haven't shopped all that much for new clothes in the last year. Plus, I'm picky and can have impossibly high and obnoxious standards when I buy. To guide my shopping trip through Modcloth, I recalled a set of shopping rules that guide me and continue to morph (BTW my #1 priority when buying new is that the garment is sutainable both construction-wise and style-wise -- I want to wear it in 5 or 10 years):

1. I'll only buy a garment I would not happily sew myself, preferably quickly.
ModCloth has a ton of cute shirts, any of which I could make for myself from a men's shirt and a couple hours' work. But I'm not tackling a swimsuit. At least not this summer. And this one is just adorable:

I've shared my lack of luck/ experience with sewing pants. Haven't tried shorts but I anticipate similar challenges. Here are a pair of shorts I'd have loved to have worn every single day this summer:

2. I'll only buy a garment if the fabric is so unique I would have to scour the globe for it, and even then I might not find it.
Border prints and anything with a robot printed on it would fall in this category. I love whimsical, colorful bird print fabric but there isn't nearly enough to choose from in a fabric store, online or IRL.

3. I'll be OK buying a garment if copying it would bring me no joy or wouldn't teach me something I want to learn.
Rows of painstaking pintucks? Gorgeous embroidery? Someone else do it. I'm taking a nap. A corollary of this is I can justify buying clothes in fabrics I am not comfortable sewing yet. In the past this applied to knits; currently it applies to slippery and delicate fabrics, like silk georgette.

4. I'll consider buying a garment if its style is unexpected for me but so What I Need Right Now.
Despite liking clean lines and structured shapes, I don't need military. I've worn military-style clothes in the past and they're a bit sharp. But with Michael Jackson's recent passing I'm a little more inclined to see the band leader crossover potential and go for something like this:

5. I will buy it if it fits perfectly and looks perfect as is. Why mess with perfection?
Here we hit that tricky conundrum we face when clothes shopping online: It might look like perfection, but how will it fit? I'm betting on this one. I'll let you know how it turns out:


  1. ohhhh i love that rev-olution jacket.
    congratulations! i love blog contests. :)

  2. My vote goes to both the 'Bloom' and the 'Intaglio' dresses! Happy Shopping!

  3. oh wow, what a gorgeous selection.. you're going to have fun spending that prize..

    me, I hate sewing basics .. anything too boring to sew.

  4. I love this! I have some similar rules too--particularly the "right now" thing, as I too want to sew stuff that I'll used for a very long time.

    I actually love sewing rows and rows of pintucks. Weird, I know. Embroidery makes me crazy, though.

    Re: Great retro swimsuits, have you seen Popina? http://www.popinaswimwear.com/ They're actually a PDX company, and Pam, the designer/owner, is super cool & everything's made in the USA. (I doubt I would ever make a swimsuit, either.)

  5. I enjoyed this post. My rules are similar but I would add two more:
    I will only buy if the garment is second hand, pre-loved and very affordable (recent purchases, beautiful red wool overcoat $40 and Chanel style jacket $15 from my local Vinnies)
    I will only buy for my daughters who don't want all home sewn clothes. I recently bought a Michael J jacket in denim for your youngest. This was her reward for 7 A grades at school.

  6. Rows of painstaking pintucks?
    Oh yes. That's an instant "I'll just buy this" for me.... love pintucks, hate making even ones! ;-)

  7. How are you going to decide? great picks!

  8. Oh, that swimsuit is just darling!

  9. I like your reasoning. GREAT criteria. And....I'm actually attempting some swimwear this week. For Lucy though. I have yet to approach it for me. scary.

  10. Those shorts are pretty darned cool, and I don't even wear shorts!

  11. Congratulations. I love the dresses. Thank you for coming by my blog and becoming part of Pay It Forward. Send me your info.

  12. heehee I hear you! I've followed 1-4 myself for years, and it means I hardly buy anything. And 5 & 6? Well, they NEVER HAPPEN! Though maybe it's because I just don't shop anymore...

  13. I'd vote Puddle Jumpers or Intaglio dress. Can't wait to see what you do get!

  14. Good morning, ladies!

    @melissa - I love it, too. I think I might make it mine.

    @MsMica - Love Bloom and Intaglio! I might have tried to get over my discomfort with too much upper body exposure but they are out of my size in both dresses. :(

    @Mary Nanna - I hear you. I have no plans to sew a tank top and most t-shirts.

    @Sarah - You love pintucks! I bet you're in the minority there. Thanks for the link to Popina -- I love their Shirley suit and have a 70's pattern I started to make last year. Maybe next summer.

    @Gail - I have a whole diff. set of rules for buying used clothes! LOL Haven't quite organized them in my head though. Are you going to post your new purchases on your blog? Would love to see the red wool coat, as I've been looking for "the perfect one" forever.

    @Wendy - I hear you. For me, sewing pintucks can border on mind-numbing.

    @Cindy - It's easier to decide when my size is sold out or I'm not convinced that I can select the right size from the possible choices!

    @geek sewing - I love polka dots, and even better in summertime on a swimsuit!

    @dana - I cannot wait to see how your swimwear adventure unfolds! I think it will be great.

    @Violet - I know, they are fabulous little shorts, right? I love them but they are sold out!

    @Laura Gerencser - Me, too. :)

    @Lindsay T - Thanks!

    @RiAnge - Thanks, and congratulations to you for placing in the SPR ugly fabric contest! Great little skirt you made. Emailed you my info yesterday on the Pay It Forward.

    @Melissa - I hardly buy anything new now, too, and I am not complaining! My closets were full of disposable clothes for so long.

    @Sarah - I can't wait either! I better get buying today before what I like that's left sells out, too!

  15. Love this manifesto, Antoinette! I think I need to codify mine as well, might stop a couple of those sneak purchases that slip in under the radar. What did you ultimately decide?

  16. @jessica - Well, every once in a blue moon something might slip in under the radar for me, too. *wink wink* So many of the ModCloth items I wanted were sold out in my size! I think I have narrowed it down to a dress and the Rev-olution jacket. I'll take photos and post them when they come in. :)

  17. Oh ModCloth, you lucky lucky girl! I really like your manifesto, I think subconsciously I have developed something similar over the years. Some things are just not worth bringing out the sewing machine for, and it's great to support other people's design visions too. My favorite are the shorts, the detailing are just perfect in every way. Enjoy your prize!

  18. @Johanna Lu - Thanks, I really do feel lucky! :) I hadn't thought of it, but you're right, it is really good to support other people's designs. I try to make it a point to buy indie when I do buy, but I won't say no to whatever this ModCloth gift certificate purchases!


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