Saturday, May 29, 2010

thrift shopping


Cups and saucers for my office (for visitors what drop by on occasion - I have a kitchen near my office but it never seems to have enough cups when I have a meeting so I've remedied the situation).  I also bought this cute pelican, with the intention of spray painting him but I don't know if I can bring myself to do it!

I've been thinking a lot recently about the things I buy.  I was watching an old Dr Who episode and a remark the Doctor made to Donna in one of the scenes really hit home.  They were freeing the Ood and Donna said something about not supporting slavery and how people must have known, and the Dr replied something about who makes your clothes.

I really love clothes and enjoy having nice things like many people, but for the first time in my life I really have the money to be able to make sensible decisions about who gets my money.  Unfortunately consciences are mostly only for those with the money to exercise them. I'm at a place in my life now that I'm pretty comfortable and can afford things like CDs on a whim - completely different from my student days of 'treating' (and I really mean that) myself to a new pair of socks when I was feeling down.

I've never been great at thrift clothes shopping. I would like to think that my size is hard to cater for in thrift shops but that might be just an excuse.  I spent a lot of time over the last few years making my own clothes and now most of my skirts, PJs and a few of my dresses are a la crafty mermaid.  I crochet my own dishcloths and try to recycle any old clothes via the charity shops if they are presentable or into new items if they are not.  A lot of the time I try hard not to waste anything that has come into the house (I'm not great at this - I shouldn't be buying magazines in the first place but when I do, I either try to reuse bits or cycle them through my friends!)

But the main problem is for things I'm not good at making.  I still need to work at being able to fit something to my body and haven't really altered patterns.  I also need to figure out button holes and more complicated things like knit fabrics and trousers and tops.  I have made a little progress here and bought a few recommended books from amazon.

But that still doesn't address the question of what should I buy when I haven't got the time or ability to make it myself.  While at first glance, it seems that I should just buy locally made clothes.  There are three main problems with this. First, locally made clothes like Andrea Moore are teeth grindingly expensive and I can only really justify buying them in the sale (if then!) to be able to afford them (I'm not that well off). Second, I want to buy clothes that look good on me - I don't know enough about altering clothes to be able to buy something that with minor changes would look great - so that limits me in to what is available off the rack.  Third, I don't want to remove an important revenue stream from ethically made clothes in other countries.  China is a key clothing manufacturer and I see very little wrong with supporting workers in factories where they are paid an appropriate and liveable wage.  But how do I tell what companies support sensible and ethical practises?

Any and all suggestions welcome (seriously) - have you thought about this yourself?  

2 comments:

  1. I totally agree with what you are saying, and I too struggle with how best to utilize my choice as a consumer. I try to support handmade where I can and mostly this is through accessory items rather than clothing items. I don't have a huge disposable income so I tend to dress fairly basically with simple versatile styles so I don't buy massive amounts of clothing, and I jazz my outfits up with an interesting scarf or brooch which more often than not is from an independant designer.
    As for working to your figure, have you tried playing around with some items of clothing you already have? It sounds like you just need a confidence boost in terms of taking the plunge and making alterations to your clothes. Have you thought about practicing on something you already have that you won't be devastated at cutting into or unpicking. I find the best ideas and methods come to mind when I forget about the rules and just try stuff.

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  2. That's a great idea. I have a few old clothes that would better serve as patterns than clothing! :)

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