The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

My Fashionista Past (and Present)!

Many times I’ve talked about how you can sew to drive even the most ardent fashionista green.  It’s true.

I know.

I did it for years.  I still do it today.

While I was in the waning stages of my apprenticeship under my mentor, I was sewing designer wear for every event I attended.  My friends were all shopping at the local (and international) designer boutiques.  I was shopping in my own studio.

While all my friends were having to buy whatever was in the store and trying to develop a lot of their own style by using elements that others had decided were sales worthy.  This was at best extremely difficult if not impossible, so a lot of them looked like little cookie cutters of the runway – never having the chance or ability to develop their own style – and a lot of them had gobs of style.  This is one of the big disadvantages of being at the mercy of stores – even those that cater to the wealthiest of customers.  Even the stores will tell you that they are limited to whatever the designers show for that season.

Here is my fashionista redeux of YSL's "Le Smoking" look

And as so often happens in life, I grew in and out of phases.  That means that at one point I had a style and size, but as time grew on, that style changed, and as time grew on, my style changed again.

I went through a diva stage;  a bohemian stage (in a very elegant sort of way!); an executive stage; a business stage; a girlie-girl stage; a sophisticate stage – sometimes within the same week.  I was working in the arts, and sometimes I needed to go has the big dogs for money for the arts, hence the executive or business stage, and then I’d have to go talk to the artists about their shows and that would be the bohemian stage.

No worries – I could just sew the clothes I needed for my latest style du jour!  And all the while, I didn’t have to worry if I was going to be able to find clothes to express my style du jour, I could just go to my studio and design what I wanted and how I wanted to look.

So while all my friends were setting records at the local boutiques buying gobs of clothes trying to set their own style, I was shopping at my own studio and having the style almost days after it was on the runway!

While all my buddies were wearing designer clothes, I was making the same clothes in the same fabrics (I also had a great source of fabrics at the time), and looking just as good if not better than they were in their designer duds.

I loved it.  At first, folks would ask where I got my clothes, and after a year or so of saying it was my design, they quit asking – they knew it was my design.

I didn’t have to go shopping – if I wanted something, I made it up.
If I wanted a certain color – I  made it.
If I wanted a certain look – I made it.
If I wanted a certain gown – I made it.
It was that simple for me and I was having a blast.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t also enjoy the savings in my clothing budget too.  I did, and I was able to do a lot more with my budget than my friends could with their store-bought budget.  But even more, I was able to tweak the designs so that they really suited me far better than anything I had ever known.  I was also able to fit my body better than designers could.  I had a very tiny waist and too often Ready-to-Wear the waist was always large on me, so it never fit, until I started making my own things and the fit was fabulous and showed off my  tiny waist just like I wanted.

What sewing did for me was open a whole new world where the sky was the limit.  I could design anything and construct it without the fear I had as a child and young adult.  I didn’t have to worry that I couldn’t make up a certain style, or even that I couldn’t modify a style – I did it all the time – every day with my own wardrobe.  No more:  “Well, I’ll just have to settle for this or that.”  No more going to a store looking for a little black dress, to have to only find a red one with too many see through parts, or a blue one that wasn’t my shade of blue or a black one that was what I was looking for, but only in a size 0!!!

A helluva Little Black Dress

And although this sewing was very glamorous, for me what was most fun was the ability I had to have all my clothes personally made for me.  The capability of all my clothes looking just like I wanted without having to settle for anything.

They fit me.

They suited my lifestyle(s) – I had an ever-changing style!

They expressed my creativity.

I was able to take this or that stylish element from the runway and incorporate it into my look and my style.  This was so freeing and empowering to me.

It might seem at first very intimidating and over-whelming, but after you get the hang of this, it’s really not.

I won’t say that it’s been all fun and games and it’s been all that easy sometimes, especially through the past 15+ years or so with this grunge phase of fashion.  It’s hard to design something pretty when pretty isn’t in.  It can be done, but it’s not all that exciting.

But that’s changing now and you can see the pretty eking out in the fashion runways, and this makes the exercise of gleaning out those stylish elements to update and make your own style fashionable and pertinent.

Yes, I can still fit into my YSL "Opium" dress!

In case you think you can’t do this – balderdash – I’ve done it most of my adult life.

In case you think you don’t have style – nonsense – we all have style.

In case you think you can’t develop your own style or don’t know how – well, it’s no wonder when most of the population is spoon-feed what you will wear, when you will wear it, but making only what’s marketable available.  That very limitation makes it very hard for something creative and individual to appear or become available in the market place.  So don’t be too hard on yourself with this aspect – with a little practice and freedom, your style does come out.

So when I write that I can teach you how to rival your most fashionista friends, I know how to do this cause I did it for so many years.  This isn’t rocket surgery (or is that brain science?!!!).  So don’t make this more difficult than it has to be.  I will tell you that when you look back and the person who you used to be before starting on this trek after having been on this trek for a while, you’ll see remarkable results.

One caveat:  I’m not a devotee of being a fashion victim, which I call a person who is so devoted to the style of one or a few designers, that no matter what that designer shows, the fashion victim is buying that/those item(s) whether they fit in her wardrobe, lifestyle or shape.

I’m talking about fashion – taking the designers and looking at the whole of what they are doing – even being inspired by designers. This is way more fun and allows you to develop your own style with the inspiration of designers and your own inspiration!

This is going to be a fun trip – so follow along with me and see where this will lead.

5 Comments
  1. Lead on, oh fearless leader! I’m eager for this adventure to begin!

  2. Thank you for your very kind way of encoraging us sewists to sew what
    works best for us and not follow the dictates of 5th Ave. As Lady T says,
    lead on . . .’

  3. Great reading!! I look forward to your posts, present (past) and applying all this knowledge to future projects. I am soooo jealous, the beautiful ‘opium’ still looks special on you—wish I could say the same about my early creations, (thank goodness for closets, hangers and memories).

  4. I look forward to your future posts and all that I can learn from you!

  5. Let’s do it!

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