Confession time: over the past year I’ve felt incredible pressure (mostly self-inflicted) to stitch up 4-6 DIY garments each month. Not because I NEEDED that particular garment but because I wanted to create fresh content on my blog and have something new to wear (for all of 5 minutes). Taking stock of what’s in my DIY wardrobe I am disappointed in myself because I have a number of items that will never see the light of day beyond a photoshoot.
There were two major reasons why I got into making my own clothes. One, plus-size, ready-to-wear clothes generally suck. And two, I was becoming more and more aware of the unethical labor practices in the garment industry. And as a former social worker, an ardent feminist and someone committed to social justice, “fast-fashion” didn’t feel right. (Especially when you consider the majority of the world’s garment workers are women).
But isn’t fast-making, fast-diy-ing just as damaging as fast-fashion? Aren’t there still unethical labor practices in the textile industry? Is it ok that we make stuff for it to be photographed and sit in a closet forever, never to be worn or used or loved again?
As someone who truly loves clothes this has been an incredible challenge for me. Balancing my love of fashion with my love of humanity and the planet has felt at odds. Is it possible to have a wardrobe that brings you joy, reflects your style while also reflecting your values? Is it possible to have a wardrobe that feels complete without feeling excessive?
As the seasons change I feel like I always come up on this conundrum. Generally I purge a bunch of stuff. Make notes of what stuff I need. Get distracted and buy or DIY new and shiny things and then I’m still stuck with a wardrobe that doesn’t truly work. So instead, this fall, I’m going to try something new using the 80/20 rule. Eighty-percent of the content in my wardrobe will be staple pieces (note: staple does not mean boring see *). These pieces will get a lot of love and wear, will be made exceptionally well and serve multiple uses (think a great pair of jeans, a silk lined wool coat, knit layering t’s). And twenty percent of my wardrobe will be special items, think sparkly items to be worn for the holidays or a sexy date night dress. I will review what garments I have, whether they are DIY or RTW- see what can be repaired and spruced up. I will also review my fabrics and pattern stash to see what can be utilized. If I buy new I plan to research their supply chain to see where their products are being produced. I plan to get more into thrifting and consigning and refashioning. I want to be more conscious of the supply chain in my closet- and I feel like I have so far to go!
Something I feel is so important is that it is less about perfection and an all or nothing approach and more about awareness. Even in my own line I’m unsure of where many of those fabrics originated. Some were selvage finds that were destined for a dumpster and yet some were from wholesalers, were unethical practices used there? I don’t know. The point is I am ready to start becoming more aware and take steps towards action–and I hope you are too.
Here are some handy resources I’m loving to get started:
If you’re a maker what do you think? Have you ever felt pressured to SEW ALL THE THINGS? If you shop, do you consistently feel pressured to buy new wardrobe items? Makers and shoppers- do you love your wardrobe? Or does it frustrate you? Are you worried about ethical practices around the world in the textile and garment supply chain? What ideas do you have?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
*Staple items will look different for everyone. These items should be high quality, be able to be worn in multiple scenarios, should last years and reflect your style. Just because it’s a staple doesn’t mean it has to be boring, for example I have a mint green, lined wool coat from J. Crew that I purchased several seasons ago and wear almost daily during the winter. It’s both a STATEMENT piece and a STAPLE piece. Because making a statement is sorta my thing 😉