Do you love shopping?

The weekend is coming. What are your plans? It may surprise you that half of all UK women and one in four men consider shopping to be fun.

Obviously posed by models
Obviously posed by models

Let’s recap the “Ready to Wear” experience

  1. Go to town
  2. wander around fairly aimlessly
  3. enter shops you have frequented before
  4. look at the wide range of merchandise
  5. find something similar to what you have bought before
  6. find something in black or familiar colour
  7. take the permitted six items into changing room
  8. drag off your jeans and jumper, stand in underwear and socks
  9. try items on for size
  10. struggle to find items that fit in more than one place eg shoulders, waist, hip or length
  11. find something that fits, but the colour looks wrong
  12. find something that fits, but style is too old/young/fashionable/short/expensive/dry clean only/has unpleasant trim
  13. find a top in a nice colour but dislike the polyester material
  14. by now feel frustrated, hot and bothered
  15. blame self for not being the right size, age, shape etc
  16. sit on the little seat and have a cry
  17. put everything back on the hangers
  18. carry rejected bundle to changing room exit
  19. assistant says “you don’t want any of these items?” with a sneer
  20. go home empty-handed or with unsuitable, compromise, garment.

Only one in ten items tried on in a shop is subsequently purchased. With on-line clothes shopping three out of every four items are returned to sender.

Man bursting out of his red shirt
Good colour, bad fit

Unfortunately making clothes for yourself can also prove frustrating

  1. Select pattern that looks nice on very tall, thin model on pattern envelope
  2. choose fabric that you like the look of eg light green “Moose pattern” jersey
  3. as  you are a size 12 in the shops cut out the size 12 pattern
  4. try to follow the instructions but not sure you are doing it right
  5. discover you need more thread/a longer zip/extra buttons/interfacing/lining
  6. make up garment
  7. feel frustrated as your skills are underdeveloped
  8. the garment just looks home-made
  9. try it on
  10. not sure it suits you due to colour, fit, style, length of sleeves, shape of skirt etc
  11. add some high heels/lipstick/yellow handbag/small dog and take a selfie
  12. post on Instagram or Facebook where all your friends say they “like” it
It fits, but....?
It fits, but….?

Either way – it’s a thoroughly dispiriting experience.

I regard RTW as too hit and miss, although I do look round the shops to see what is trending. I prefer the choice, fit, and originality of a personal wardrobe that I have crafted myself. When making our own clothes we have to

  • look at a drawing, or create our own, and know that this shape will flatter our shape
  • choose a pattern that is within our capability, in terms of difficulty
  • alter the pattern to fit our specific measurement
  • amend the design to suit our own preferences eg sleeve shape, length of skirt etc
  • choose the right fabric for that style eg medium weight jersey for a wrap dress, heavy wool for a structured coat
  • choose the right interfacing, notions and trimmings
  • choose the right colour that will suit us, and co-ordinate with everything else in our wardrobe
  • make it up carefully, enjoying the creative process
  • wear it with confidence, knowing that it fits and flatters

It’s a tall order. But it beats shopping. This weekend I am going away with my board to consider how we are going to carry on producing homes for low income Londoners.

The Board of Notting Hill Housing
Notting Hill Board



7 Responses

  1. catherinedaze

    I don’t miss clothes shopping at all. But sometimes it is nice to have the instant gratification of popping into a shop and buying the t-shirt I need rather than spending a few days waiting for fabric, cutting, sewing. I only shop for things I don’t have to try on and bras.

  2. amaryllislog

    My quandary is time (very limited) and although I love to shop, when is enough, enough…I continually remind myself to stop over consuming. I love to sew but again, slow down and think through the process.

    The weekend looks promising, beautiful weather, perfect for outdoor adventures and a visit with a healing friend.

  3. sewruth

    Great minds think alike! I went shopping today – 1 pair of ankle boots to co-ordinate with my recently made tailored jacket; jersey/shirt to go with me-mades winter greys and some make-up. Also went to the hairdressers, so I’m feeling good today!

  4. Joyce

    oh my goodness……..tell me about it! ekkkkkkkkkkkkk…………… the stores are sooooo disappointing. My girlfriend is having her 60th birthday party tomorrow night ……and so …….I went looking ……..a no! Nothing I wanted to buy!!
    I also bought make-up (Ruth),, and I waited till the very last second before that had to be done……. 50 dollars later, thank goodness it lasts over 6 months!
    I am very pleased to see Kate, that you included the frustrations of sewing, because that too is so true, but…….at least we hold the power key, can learn from past experiences and move forward, one garment at a time.
    I do not enjoy shopping ! I went through the very cycle you outlined Kate….the trying on, the disappointments..etc etc.
    good grief…… make it stop…….and that’s when I happily pick up a needle and thread, a pattern, and material- all my choice, not what’s force fed to me, on the racks. Happy sewing everyone!!

  5. Stephanie

    I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of shopping, although there are occasional exceptions. Honestly, shopping malls, as are typical in North America, make me feel depressed. I think it’s seeing all of the cheap and horrible fabrics, wonky seams…and knowing that everything is going to end up in a landfill after a short period of time. If I consider how the things were made and the pollution caused in the making and transportation I go into a downward spiral of gloom! I haven’t been in a shopping mall in at least five years.

    On the other hand, I don’t mind shopping in Italy, and I’m fortunate that I can do so, but even then I only shop in a few places that sell very specific, locally-produced merchandise. I guess I like shopping only when the shops are pre-selected and so definitely have high-quality merchandise at appropriate prices. I am willing to pay for a quality piece but am not interested in paying for big labels or the marketing associated with them, especially since these days the manufacturing has often been exported.

    Very occasionally I enjoy shopping simply for the purpose on trying on new styles to see if they might suit me, but even then I have to shop in very short spurts or I start to get tired/annoyed/bored. It seems I am the most curmudgeonly of your readers!

    I like the way you structured this post. Interesting, as always, Kate. Best wishes for the retreat.

  6. maryfunt

    Great post and you summarized the reasons we sewers hate to shop. It seems everything is overpriced, inferior quailty, cheap fabric, etc., etc. I usually wander around for awhile and then head back to the sewing room.

Leave a Reply