...to come at once to the practical part of the question, perhaps we are led oftener by the love of novelty and a regard for the opinions of men, in procuring it, than by a true utility." ~Henry David Thoreau
What to wear? That seems to be a question I am asking myself more and more these days. I really am in need of a few pieces of clothing...something to wear should I have need to dress up a bit. I have almost given up shopping for clothing, for I can find almost nothing satisfactory to me. I have a mental list of criteria that clothing must meet before it will even be considered. It must be made of cotton, linen, or wool; must not be too bold, solid colors preferred, but may not be pink; must not fit too tightly, must have pockets... I would like to add, "Must be made in the USA," but that would probably mean that I would have to sew it myself in my own sewing room in the USA (which I am considering).
When I was making the clothing for this little cloth and clay doll, I couldn't help but think how I would like to have an outfit exactly like this, made from walnut-dyed linen, in my size, of course. I wouldn't even mind the lace-up boots! (I would never dress a doll in something I wouldn't wear myself.)
Among the clothes in my closet are a few old standbys, many of which date back twenty or more years. Day after day, I find myself reaching for the same well-worn old pair of pants and frayed-bottom shirts. Not that I mind frayed hems and edges, nor a mended rent or two, for that matter. Henry David once wrote, "Every day our garments become more assimilated to ourselves, receiving the impress of the wearer's character, until we hesitate to lay them aside. No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch on his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience."
My mother valued cloth, and, as far as I know, never threw away a single piece. She had an uncanny knack for re-purposing old garments into something new and uselful. She even shredded scraps of cloth for stuffing pillows. It is concerning that we view almost everything these days as being disposable, even our clothing...here today, gone tomorrow (gone along with an estimated 12 million tons of textile waste per year in North American landfills). India Flint says, "By making do with having a bit less as well as making that "less" last longer, each person can do something useful, simply by moderating their impact on the planet." You know, now that I think about, I really don't think I need anything new at all......
There was a time when all of my clothes were made at home. In the old photo below my cousin Joy (on the left) and I are dressed up in our homemade dresses for our very first day of school... first grade. My mother made my dress and our grandmother made Joy's, both sewn on treadle sewing machines. Joy's dress, as I remember it, was made from a dark red dotted swiss and trimmed in lace...very pretty. I still have the dress I was wearing, complete with attached collar with self-fabric ruffle, puffed sleeves, back tie sashes, and closed in the back with a continuous lap placket without a seam, and beautifully hand stitched buttonholes. This little dress is my go-to when I want to see how it should be done.
Recommended reading : Second Skin ~ choosing and caring for textiles and clothing, India Flint
and, of course, Walden, Henry David Thoreau