“There are two ways to get more. Keep accumulating stuff. The other is to desire less.” Ladies and gents, seamstresses and seamsters, sewers of all likes, this should be the handmaker’s anthem.
Around 7:00 a.m. almost every morning, my Aunt Ginny sends me an inspirational text. Just like a horoscope, some ring true, but ninety nine percent don’t. This was that one percent.
As I look back on the last ten years of my life, I see an upwards and then a downwards trend. I was a gluttonous teen, spending most of my time at the mall. With a movie theatre and loads of shops, it was the hot spot during middle and high school. My hang outs changed when I was in college, but I still spent a lot of time shopping. Come on, what else was there to do with a 3 day a week class schedule? When I first moved to Philly, my neighbor invited me over for a drink. Totally platonic. We swapped life stories, and one of his was about a trip to a 3rd world country, I forget which one at the moment. I asked him what he took away from it. He said that it made him realize how much stuff Americans have.
Osmosis takes time, and it took about a year for what he said to sink in. Slowly, I realized that I also had too much stuff and I didn’t want it any more. I wanted simple. Living alone in a big city, everything I bring into my life has to be taken care of by me, and the more stuff I buy, the more stuff I have to care for. So, I started editing my life down to only the things I really wanted and used. If I hadn’t worn it, used it, cleaned it, washed it in 6 months, I got rid of it (exception to this are any sort of antique/vintage items).
Now here’s where it gets interesting. My closet is smaller than it’s ever been, and you would think that with less, I would desire more. Not the case. Have you ever had this mentality… when you’re at a store like Forever 21 and you have $100 to spend, you try to pack at many items into that budget before you hit triple digits. What ensues is a game to find the lowest priced items and as many pairing as you can. It’s like Scrabble but with fashion. I did that, and what happened was I left with a bunch of crappy clothes that I wan’t interested in a week later. A $10 skirt can only hold it’s allure for so long (again, the exception being vintage items – I think it’s a different scenario when dealing with older clothing). Now, if you spend $100 on one piece, let’s say an Anthropologie blouse or a Free People dress, there’s something special about that item. Even though you bought/have less than if you shopped at Forever 21, that less performs better and longer. It holds a special place in your closet and you keep it and wear it longer. I have found the same to be true for fabric – the more I spend on it, the more special the piece that I make. Also, I buy less fabric. Confession, I don’t have a fabric stash! I have maybe one or two yards of one or two fabrics, like the black wool cashmere for my very little black dress, but other than that, I buy on a project basis. This allows me to spend more on fabrics because I know I don’t have a closet full of usable yardage. And let’s face it, I’m not the fastest seamstress, so if I make 5-10 garments a year, I can justify spending $30+ dollars on a fabric. Yeh, I spent that amount of money on the polka dot brocade I told you about earlier this week. But you know what? I love it and my fingers are crossed that it will sew up nicely and last years. Now, there’s always exceptions, and yes, I have scored some good items from Forever 21, but let’s keep this conversation generalized.
So, do you want to get more? The answer may not be not by accruing, accumulating, and adding. It’s might actually be about subtraction. The simpler I get, the happier I become.