My problems with RTW…

The red dress  the blond girl is wearing (on the left, below)  is one of the first things I’ve ever pinned on Pinterest a few years ago. At the beginning of summer I decided to have a peek at the sales with my sister, and ended up buying the dress on the right. It looks pretty similar to the one that was supposed to serve as inspiration to make something alike. It was one of the 4 garments I bought this year for myself.

One of my problems with buying Ready-To-Wear is the fit. Or the lack of it. 3 of the 4 garments had to be altered, as they were just unwearable in their original state. My sister always tells me not to buy anything that still needs to be altered, and I haven’t done it so far (except for charity shop refashions), but I really liked these clothes and the changes needed were minor:

  • Problem: The red dress looked fine, but I couldn’t do a proper before picture as I’m pretty sure WordPress wouldn’t appreciate showing nudity without warning – after taking a few steps, the dress slid all the way down under my bosoms.
  • Solution: I have now shortened the straps to avoid this!
  • Problem: These trousers did fit me on my bum and legs, but the waist was too big.
  • Solution: I shortened the waistband and took the trousers in at the center back and center front.
  • Problem: This jumpsuit was waaaay too long.
  • Solution: I cut it off and hemmed it…Then got bike oil on the legs on the way to a festival.  🙁

The fit, however is not the only issue I have with buying new clothes. Walking around the shops I felt a little confused at first for several reasons. First of all, sewing is not just a hobby for me, it’s pretty much my only passion. When people say that you could just save yourself the hassle and buy clothes off the rack, it just makes no sense to me. I am actually super happy to spend time on making things for myself, however long it takes. Which is one of the reasons why buying clothes in fast fashion serving stores is not really an option for me.

Secondly, most clothes that I can afford are made by underpaid workers, in conditions that would be unacceptable in countries where the finished garments are sold in. To be honest though, I don’t think the fabric that most of us buy off the roll is made in any better circumstances. So as much as I would like to think that I am not contributing too much to the exploitation of these people by limiting my purchases to shoes and sometimes clothes I could not reproduce, sadly I don’t quite believe that is the case.

The third issue that came up while trying clothes on was my body image. It’s been quite a while since I actually bought any RTW clothes, so I had no idea how different I look in the fitting room compared to how I look at home in the mirror, or even on holiday photos. I blame the different lighting 😉 , but I couldn’t help but wonder if I should strive to look good naked even if I am happy in my body when wearing the right clothes…and by strive I obviously mean dieting.

My attitude to going on diets and eating well would make for a very long story, and I think the fact that I was still not really shaken by realizing that my dress size was different to what it was the last time, shows that I can usually convince myself that what size my body is shouldn’t be something I’m concerned about as long as I am healthy and enjoy myself in it. Most of the time…

I would really love to hear how those who sew their own clothes, my lovely sewing-blogging “neighbours”, feel about these things! 

How do you feel about buying ready to wear clothes?

Do you get more tempted to buy any during sales?

Do you feel like sewing has changed your attitude towards your own body?

6 thoughts on “My problems with RTW…

  1. I have many of the same issues with buying, or more accurately, trying on and rejecting, RTW. The truth is, manufacturers have no alternative than to use sizing models based on averages– and those averages are originally based on great diversity! (Imagine if you and 5 friends wanted to wear the same dress in the same size, without alterations.) As long as we buy RTW, I think we have to accept that, at least some of the time, we’ll need to do alterations to perfect the fit. It’s ironic that, in doing so, we’re giving these garments back the diversity lost to averaging.

    1. That is actually a really good point. To be honest I have never looked at it that way. I guess for me it’s more of the same issue as growing up with this idea of what a perfect body looks like, and comparing myself to it while looking at magazines, and then again, seeing where my body differs from the “ideal” in the changing room. But I must admit that before I knew how to sew I just went with whatever was in the shops and worked my way around the fitting issues, so the system kind of works! 🙂

  2. First off: that yellow jumpsuit is amazing! I want to make its replica!

    Ah, RTW, I just recently picked up sewing again & have started on my handmade wardrode, so there’s plenty of RTW in my wardrobe. I do try to buy organic/fair trade when I buy new clothes, such as jeans & knitwear. A bit expensive, so I have to make choices, which is good, as it makes me think about what to buy and what not.
    As to me-mades, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with those; sometimes they fit great, sometimes they do not. My knowledge of pattern alteration needs brushing up! I do like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with wearing handmade clothing!

    1. Thank you! First I thought it was too “loud”, but it’s actually a dream to wear.

      I think your approach is really good towards buying more clothes, I mean that is the only sustainable way forward. If we stopped buying clothes all together, we still wouldn’t have to go naked for a good 10-15 years using only what we own, but that would be a very harsh direction to go. As long as we have desires to express ourselves through our attire (or whatever the drive is behind buying new clothes), I think whatever makes us slow down; think about what we are getting; and chose from the options that you mentioned, I think we should be on the right track.

      I am with you on the me-mades. How annoying is it when you make something, you’ve worked so hard on it, it looks perfectly fine on the outside, but you just know that you don’t like wearing it as you can’t bend down/sit/lift your arms up comfortably in it!

  3. I am much pickier about RTW since I started sewing, but sewing has impacted my body image more than buying RTW – I’m now aware that my boobs are lower down my body than almost any darts suggest they should be, and my waist measurement fluctuates on a daily basis. I fit into shop bought clothes fairly well (or I used to before I knew how things were meant to fit), so this has been a new experience for me. Fortunately, I find it an interesting challenge to try and get things to fit, and I’ve been able to work out what styles suit me.

    Anyway, I always think you look great in your clothes, so I agree that as long as you’re happy and healthy, then that’s great.

    1. Thank you laura, that’s very nice of you to say! 🙂

      It’s funny how it’s the other way around for us, although I do suspect that you spend a lot more time and pay more attention to the details when it comes to fitting. I guess once my initial excitement and impatience towards sewing wears off I can get into that good habit too!

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