The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Investment Dressing

Investment Dressing is a way to think about your clothing and keeping your wardrobe that is really the most cost effective way of dressing.  It’s not cheap, cause I think cheap denotes lessor quality, and that’s not what I’m talking about.

In my closet I have clothes that are decades old, and although that sounds 1.) preposterous, 2.) like I’m exaggerating,  3.) I don’t really live in the real world and finally 4.) I have nothing in style to wear whatsoever!  I’m not doing/thinking/feeling any of those things.  Exactly the opposite:  I feel as though I have a collection of great clothes built up over time (and it didn’t take me that long to build it up).

Not only is it easy on the wallet, but it’s easy on the eyes.  I look good in all the clothes in my closet cause they are designed that way.  This sounds sort of like a duh moment, but it’s hard to get there.

I know.  There’s NO ONE who loves a bargain more than moi! (and Miss Piggy!)  But you’ve got to think past that.

For many of us, we aren’t even exposed or have access to anything nicer than the cheap fashion, which makes it doubly hard to even know what well-made clothes even look like.

Here’s another benchmark that’s fascinating and confusing:  most of us wouldn’t balk at all at having to spend $300 – $500 – or even (depending upon how advanced we need it) $1,000 on a computer.  We expect it to last more than 2 or three times after we use it and through more than just a couple of failures (most of us expect it to last even in spite of constant failures….who moi?!!!!!).  But we go all nuts over spending $250 on a pair of pants that will last for 5 years…..or even this on buying some fabric that costs $50/yd  and takes 2¼ at the most, to make a pair of classic pants that will last for 10 years (costing around $30/yr being really outrageous on the price of the fabric!)

All of this hit home with me when I read this headline this morning:


Should I buy the (and I won’t put the real tablet name here)?

A thousand times no. Its cheap price tag might be appealing, but sacrifices have been made everywhere, resulting in a tablet that’s horrific in almost every way.

This was a review for a well-known electronic gadget out there, but just imagine this headline:

Should I buy that cheap piece of clothing that will only last through 5 washings and 6 wearings at the most?

A thousand times no.  Its cheap price tag might be appealing, but sacrifices have been made everywhere, resulting in a garment that’s horrific in almost every way.

Why do we think that we know more about clothing than electronics – because we buy them?…that educates us as to the quality of clothing and electronics?  It doesn’t work for electronics, so why does it work for clothing?

Why is it we can apply this to the electronics we buy, to the furniture, education, handbags, appliances large & small, automobiles and almost any other purchases, but we can’t seem to make this jump in our clothing?  There are lots of reasons (marketers, merchandisers and even designers albeit kicking and dragging into this trend – all collude against us).  It is truly like giving up a bad habit that is as intoxicating as nicotine or cocaine…..and just as damaging.

But with some discipline and self-control for just a short time, you can start a habit that will put you on a path toward a well-appointed wardrobe that excites you every time you open the closet door.

I’m not saying this is easy, but it is so worth it.  I’m also going to be honest, and when you take tiny baby steps toward a goal, it looks like you are moving as fast as frozen molasses, however you are making progress.  It’s good to sit back and take a look every once in a while to get a locator on where you are in this.  This means keeping abreast of the condition of your closet, and yes, cleaning it out again!

And here’s another secret that is not well known:  Most famous folks do this as a regular part of their life, especially those that are just either being discovered or the really, REALLY rich folks who buy couture.  They do NOT buy couture every two weeks.  They buy a garment and wear it over and over and over. They take good care of it and it provides them with immense joy and longevity.

Here are some techniques to help you along the way:

#1  And I can not stress this enough – CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET.  Yeah it sounds really simple and mind-numbingly boring and a great way to waste a perfectly good afternoon (hey you folks in the NE have a snow storm….go clean out your closet!!!!!)

Divide your categories into three parts:  1.) Keepers, 2.) Not Sure, 3.) Goners!  The keepers and the goners are self-explanatory, but keep the not surefor a year.  If you don’t go back to it after that, you aren’t wearing it, and it’s time to recycle or give it away.  And do try and recycle or give it away, no matter what shape….if it’s really bad, tear it into rags and use it around the house or the garage to clean up or work with.

OK – so you’re still with me – what are the benefits to this?  There are way more than you realize.  Here’s what you can discover:

  • what you’re not wearing
  • what you’re wearing
  • what you wish you could wear (but know in your gut you can’t)
  • what you need
  • what you don’t need
  • a real good look at your style.  More than anything you can do, this will help clarify in your mind what your style is.  It’s already there, why not use it?

#2 Keep that list of items that need filling in and what you don’t need with you when you’re going through the pattern book or thumbing through ideas for new entries into your closet.  Make all those new clothes enter an application for your closet to see if they are acceptable enough to be in your wonderful wardrobe!

#3 Don’t get side-tracked.  It’s so easy.  Entering the fabric store is like says:  “It’s your kinda candy store!”  There will be distractions EVERY WHERE and admire, but stay on point here.  If you need a white blouse, a silk dress ain’t gerna fulfill that need in your closet;  if you need a classic pair of pants, don’t  be looking at the springy, happy chiffon (even if it the depth of winter and it’s really cheerful looking!).  Stay on track!

So what you’ve ended up with is a closet that holds only what you wear, what you feel good in, and emphatically shows you what you have too much of and what you need.  This is so helpful when you get ready to add anything to it – either shopping or sewing.  For me it’s sewing.  Whenever I think I need something, I hit my closet for a quick run thru and then I can tell what I need and prioritize it.

That sounds very calculating, and it is but it’s also immensely empowering.  It also gives you a clear idea about what is going to work and what won’t in your wardrobe.  Now you can set about picking out just those garments that you need and fill in the few holes, and then you’re onto picking out your next investment ensemble for the coming spring.

  1. Thank you Claire for all you give to us. Please tell us how you arrange your closet. Do you put outfits together or
    Colors or same garments? Thank you. Deb

    • Deb – I keep seasons then colors. The fact is that when you dress and stock your wardrobe this way, you don’t need a gob of clothes. Since you have outfits that work, you stay with those and don’t have to have the plethora of cheap clothing (that I find I often don’t even wear). So my closet isn’t stuffed – it’s full of clothes I wear. That means it’s easier to keep organized, and I don’t have to clean it out as often cause it is organized, and most of the time, I know what I need to fill the holes!

      It’s hard to see at first, particularly when there is so much out there, but after you start thinking about stocking your closet in a completely different way, it works – albeit subtle and in small increments, it works! I know cause I live with a closet like this.

  2. I’m still trying to make a list of essentials for a working wardrobe. When I was a kid I had 3: play clothes, school clothes, and church clothes. It’s just not that simple any more. My play clothes include clothes for outdoor activities as well as the “bottom of the barrel” items I wear to do house work – that a spill of a little bleach will not ruin. Outdoor activities include swimming and walking right now. Instead of school clothes, I now have work clothes, but they divide into clothes for the office and clothes to wear to court. The clothes I wear to court will also work for church. As an adult, I need clothes that I can wear on formal and semi-formal occasions. Then the undergarments for all this!!! As I am working out a wardrobe, I am also changing sizes, which can be a bit disheartening. But I value of becoming healthy over a fully stocked wardrobe, so I do what I can and try to make choices that stretch. Any advice you have on essential pieces or other ways of looking at the wardrobe building process would be most valued. Thanks for all you do!!

    • You know you and Rosaline make great questions, and I want to answer that in a future blog….so everyone can get use of it.

  3. As I put much time and energy in making my clothes, it is impossible for me to threw away something i made myself.
    Have you a suggestion on this matter ?
    I can not give it away because it is made on my body.

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