Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Line Between

    After writing the post Monday about the ups and downs of ready to wear, it got me thinking that there might be a middle ground that could work better for us. At least, I'd love to think so.  We are possessed of technologies that stand poised to transform all manner of manufacture in time.  But they aren't there yet.  It will be some while before 3D printing, and other newer tech will be both affordable, and variable enough, to satisfy the needs of the Attire language.
    You see, at the early stages of ready to wear, businesses maintained tailors and seamstresses who could do substantial alterations to ready made goods, bringing them closer to the level of fit of a bespoke garment.  In fact, even now, in many shops, alterations can be done for the same purpose.  The only real difference between now, and the early days, is that such alterations are an up-charge, where they used to be factored into garment price, since most people required alterations.  And for a long while menswear alterations were free. No longer.
    Retail for both sellers and shoppers has changed so much that most people are either unaware that such services exist,  or are so used to ill fitted clothing that they don't avail themselves of it.  Doubtless the idea of an up-charge frightens many away.  The result of getting garments altered, is not just better, more comfortable fit.  Clothing that fits properly, and does not bind, or pull, lasts significantly longer, so clothing needs to be replaced less often, and looks better during its lifetime.
     The other advantage is more subtle, and perhaps the most important.  When we go out into our day wearing something we know fits right, and looks well on us, we have a greater confidence in ourselves, because we don't have to think about our clothes. We don't need to consider if a shirt is riding up, or a skirt is slipping askew.  No more worry about that jacket that has to be tugged down every 5 minutes.  So, we can get on with our day, with one less thing to nag at us.
    Now, I'm hardly suggesting that we all start having every item we purchase altered for us. But beginning with our most costly purchases, our suits, and our more formal clothes, is a start.  Another way to approach the question, would be to have some article that is the sort of thing you would wear constantly, like a pair of jeans, altered to fit you.  The difference in what those jeans feel like to wear, and the number of compliments you will receive, will astonish you, I'm certain.  Well fitted clothes are effortless to wear, and pass that ease along to us.
    So, what is the line between?  Do we suck it up, shrink our wardrobes to a tiny fraction of their prior size, and have everything custom made? Most would balk at that, partly from price concerns, partly from the loss of variation in their apparel choices.  Do we continue to buy badly fitted clothing, sometimes at hefty prices, and always feel just a tiny bit out of true?  Or do we take a small step forward, and consider having at least some of the things we rely on each day altered to better suit us?  Sure, it may mean that we buy a little bit less clothing, but that clothing we do have will serve us longer, suit us more adroitly, and garner appreciative attention from others.
    We lucky, spoiled folks in the USA, have gotten used to clothing being widely available, and inexpensive.  Many is the time I have been out with a friend who is shopping who looks at something and gasps at the price, (usually when that price is not by any means astronomically high).  Often they ask me why things cost as they do. And I tell them what I've written in this blog before.  We are unaware of the nearly endless chain of folk who make sure we have clothes to wear.  It would do us individually, and societally, a great deal of good to begin to treat our clothing with the respect it deserves.
    It is certainly true that we need to turn ourselves away from this idea that consumption is a good thing all by itself.   Being more mindful of our choices in our apparel, taking better care that those things suit us as well as possible through careful purchase, and appropriate alteration; and then caring for those garments wisely, will only help us in the long run.  Sure, mass marketers do not want us to think in this way, it will hurt their profits.  But for myself, I would rather pay a bit more, and get a quality product, than have five of something that is substandard. 
    Ultimately it is up to each of us to decide whether the status quo is still acceptable or not.  But we now have technologies to hand that can make better made, better fitted clothing possible for more people.  We just have to demand it.

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