10.22.2012

a self-stitcher goes shopping


So here's a story for you...

Yesterday I decided I needed to venture off the island to buy myself some lining fabric for the dress I'm making out of my hand-painted fabric. I wasn't really feeling up to making the long trek allll the way to civilization (Houston, in my book - and where the only mildly decent fabric stores are) so I settled for the JoAnne's conveniently situated at the halfway point. 

First of all, JoAnne's was in total, full-out, Halloween cray-cray mode and I was slightly terrified, but I soldiered on because I'm brave like that. Turns out that the majority of their fabric, including their skeptical selection of lining fabrics, was on a 50% off sale! Awesome! So I pawed through the polyesters, setting my "natural fiber" bigotry aside for the time being. I mean, a sale is a sale. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I'm pretty incapable of impulse buying these days - especially on mystery fabric - and so I pretty easily talked myself down from purchasing anything other than what I came there for: white rayon lining fabric - the bemberg variety.

Well they were out. Completely. They had orange and black, but... you know. 

So I'm feeling a bit deflated because this means I'm going to have make the long haul up to Houston anyway. But, alas, I wasn't going to do it this day. However, there I was, in the midst of this huge shopping complex, and I decided to do something that used to cheer me up in my pre-sewing days - I decided to go clothes shopping. 

Now this wasn't a total coincidence - word on the street had it that the Houston area is finally home to an H&M, and it just so happens to be at my halfway point - right across the street from my JoAnne's. Once upon a time I used to love me some H&M. It fit my graduate school budget and it catered to literally every look and occasion. Trendy? Check. Office appropriate? Check. Hipster? Check. Bohemian? Check, check, check....

I have grown up some since those college days (thank god) and so have my tastes in clothing - helped along mainly by the fact that I've sewn every major new garment that's been added to my wardrobe since 2010.  I'm far more pickier about fit, fabric and quality than I used to be. And I'm a fair bit more educated on the, shall we call them "dangers" of fast and cheap consumption, especially within the clothing industry. But despite all this, a morbid curiosity drew me in. And I'm glad I went, because otherwise I would have never known that Kelly Clarkson was still making music (where have I been?!?)

Truthfully, I knew from the outset that I was not going to buy anything (see above, re: impulse buying).  But I figured this might be a fun opportunity to try on some trends I've been thinking about and see if they would actually work on me.  The looks I wanted to try? Oversized sweaters, leather leggings, wild prints.

So without further ado, here are some of the outfits I put together on this pretend shopping spree:


Glitter sweater and faux leather pants.

I first became aware of my desire for faux leather leggings while trolling one of my favorite style blogs, sea of ghosts.  The inspiration to pair them with an oversized sweater perhaps came from Pinterest? Not really sure. Anyway - these H&M faux leather leggings were not very stretchy. I grabbed them in a size 6 and a size 8, not really sure what my size is in that store and mainly eyeballing the waist. The size 6 fit the best, but oddly. Tight in the waist, baggy in the crotch. I'm not sure why I was surprised by how... squeaky these were... but there you go. Squeaky pants. The sweater was acrylic and cozy, but I probably wouldn't actually pair these two in real life (I think I can come up with a better top for leather leggings, don't you?)


Cable knit sweater and crazy print, cropped trousers.

I was very drawn to this whole display of stuff in this wild, floral digital print. There was a ton of it. Apparently Lucky magazine put this stuff as its "top pick" because there were signs all over the place! So these trousers are a size 2, to give you an idea of the crazy sizing. They only had a size 2 left, and I decided to give it a go. They fit, but they are what a friend of mine once fondly termed "yeast infection pants" - meaning the crotch seam was where no crotch seam had a right to be! So I'd probably size up in the pants and size down in the sweater (there's oversize, and then there's sloppy...)


Crazy print dress

This dress was the most ill-fitting of the bunch. It was made from a stretchier fabric than the pants.  It was rather loose in the upper chest, and real tight over my belly and butt. The waist line also kept wanting to hike up. And it was short! Like, whoa! When I first spotted this dress I thought that if it fit it might actually make a fun work dress, but it would need at least 6 inches!


Another crazy print dress.

This was the last dress I tried on. This was a thinner fabric than all the rest, pretty silky to the touch at first, but even for the short time I had it on it became kind of scratchy.  It's a simple A-line shift dress, but I liked the way the pattern was placed. There was even a bit of tricky seaming that happened at the shoulder to keep the illusion going - an unexpectedly thoughtful detail.

All in all, I have to admit that the quality wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be! Of course there is no telling how any of these things would hold up with repeated wearing and washing.  In the end, I came away from this little pretend shopping spree with some ideas for fall/winter sewing, and feeling like my style mojo might have just got a kick in the pants. This isn't to say that I intend on copying these looks, but sometimes you need to step out of your daily routine to get the old wheels a-turnin' !

Does anyone else go pretend shopping when they need a bit of inspiration? I'd love to hear about it!

xx

29 comments:

  1. Miss Crayola CreepyOctober 22, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    The last time I went to Forever 21 with a friend I walked out with nothing! It was super weird, but then I realized how picky I had become and how much more I enjoyed making my own custom things than buying the same items as everyone else :)

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  2. This post is great! I was watching the photos and feeling the conexion! I also do the photo thing. I´m not alone in this, yeah! ;D

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  3. Oooo fun! I love going and trying stuff on, allbeit mostly in thrift shops just to test out different looks. Those oversized sweaters are a winner on you!

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  4. Un-shopping is great for trying new things - I'm with you there. And I find that some of my best ideas, both for sewing, and other life stuff, can happen while enjoying a cost free browse. It can't be overdone though, just once in a while, or the magic just disappears.

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  5. Neeno - Sew Me LoveOctober 22, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    I like the crazy print dress but yeah bit too tight for me!!! Looks great on you though, you pull it off :)


    I haven't bought any RTW for AGES and I really need to cos I'm running out of clothes for work! and I don't want to make work clothes, how boring :)

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  6. I enjoy window shopping mostly when we are in places like Bethesda or Georgetown. The boutiques have interesting styles, but I am way too lazy to try things on. The visuals do inspire me. I love those bright prints you tried on. I am thinking spring will be time for me to wear some matching print tops and pants. It is trendy, but I like it.

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  7. I'm still trying to work out what styles and shapes suit this unique body I call mine, so I do Indulge in some pretend shopping from time to time.

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  8. How fun! I've never done this before, but it's such a great idea to try out styles and shapes BEFORE investing blood, sweat, and tears making something that's a bit outside your normal style. Love the pics!

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  9. Well, I think you look pretty gorgeous in all these outfits! Especially love the bright crazy prints selection.
    Hope you locate that rayon lining, rayon is a natural fibre too :) I cannot wait to see your painted dress!

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  10. You are one of those lucky ducks who can wear just about anything and look hot! That being said, my personal opinion is that these RTW outfits are way too 80's reminiscent and your self made outfits are far classier, and more elegant, and elevate you to supermodel status ^__^


    Also, bemberg rayon FTW!! Boo on polyester lining, i'd rather wear a garbage bag LOL.

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  11. I just left a long msg and stupid Diusqus deleted it. Basically I said a) everything looks great on you and b) I will inevitably end up buying something when I'm in one of those stores, even if it's just a hat or flats or something. I lost my mind at a crazy J. Crew summer sale (or as my best (Jewish) friend calls it, Cray Jew) and bought pants, shorts and tanks since i had no plans on making those hings at the time. But most of the time everything is gross and cheap to me. Although Sallie, you are totally to blame for me going to H&M to find that sweater tonight after work. I've been pining for oversize cableknit coziness and thrifting has yielded exactly nothing and mama can only knit so fast....

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  12. I do this like once a month, I LOVE it. I feel weird, knowing I won't buy anything, so I always get a piece of jewelry or a sweater (I refuse to take up knitting.) but really that's just an excuse to buy a wee something. Love that blue & black, please tell me you're in the midst of copying it (oh and yeah, you can rock every look you tried on. I don't think there's a look you can't rock.)

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  13. Bahahahah yeast infection pants!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!! I walked into a mall the other day and instantaneously started hatin' on everything. Like, it transformed me into a bitter person. That probably had something to do with that fact that nothing fits me, everything costs a million dollars, and the fabric sucks. Seriously though I want to know HOW a pair of jeans can be absurdly tight in the knees, too big in the thighs, but too tight in the crotch?? Who is shaped like that?! I guess it just makes me a Little Patty Pout Face when I take all the time to try something on and then nothing fits. It makes me a sore loser. Hmpf!

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  14. I do the same, but I rarely try things on... I know how ill fitting some garments are on me and I prefer to save me the disappointment. I walked in H&M yesterday after at least a year I didn't visit it and I felt SO OLD. The average customers were 15 years old hipsters, I felt kind of uncomfortable in my high waisted skirt, heart print tights and oxford shoes...

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  15. Some cute looks for sure but I like your creations better!

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  16. Oh my gosh I felt so old there too! It was kind of a wakeup call.. the music, the lights, the styles... everything!

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  17. Yup. I didn't mention it in my previous comment, but the stink of sweat full of teenage hormones was the cherry on top...

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  18. I do not understand the fit of ready to wear! For me, no matter how much I size up, its like every single pair of pants gives me a muffin top. I now remember why I had such bad self-esteem all those years....
    Thank god for sewing...

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  19. Its sort of good for the psyche, no? Plus, sometimes you just have to buy that little necklace or something... Although I really had no qualms about handing the dressing room attendant an arm-full of clothes when she said "I can take anything you don't want!" Yeah, okay, here's ALL of it! Exit stage left....

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  20. If it wasn't still 80 degrees here I probably would have walked out with one of those $30 sweaters. I know where I'm going when I start to get chilly. Sometimes instant gratification is pretty cool, too.

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  21. Haha! Yes, I felt a bit 80's in some of those looks - proportions were just a tad bit off for me...

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  22. I dig the cable sweater and that's the sorta thing I do end up buying from H&M whenever I'm near one. That and crazy earrings. We don't have one here, although I imagine it won't be long before we do. Nowhere to "pretend shop" to get that many trends in one place at the same time... and I love the all-over floral print dress with the 3/4 sleeves--very cool proportions on you, shapely but simple.

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  23. I went last night but couldn't find it. The drape on that guy is pretty perfect. BTW, how gnarly do those stores smell now? It's like a chemical explosion. I couldn't deal. I ran in, hunted like a hound dog and left defeated. Right now am checking etsy to see if I can fin an old vintage one to refashion...

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  24. The smell is kind of alarming! I love Paunnet's observation about hormonal teenage sweat!! Eeew!
    Bummer you couldn't find the sweater, but if you can find a vintage one its probably for the best. Sometimes those acrylic guys get weird real fast!

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  25. Oh I love me some H&M too! You know that H&M is located right smack in the middle between Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters on Walnut St (Free People also opened next door to Urban) which means I always stop in between stores. I know I shouldn't believe or support H&M's fast fashion ways but they support my budget. Even though I work for Anthro, they can put me into serious bankruptcy fast.


    I don't pretend shop for inspiration but I do pretend shop to see how different silhouettes would look on my. I'm tiny and many shapes overwhelm me if it is not worn right.


    Good luck with your fabric shopping in Houston. I HATE JOANN'S!

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  26. Definitely try out new shapes and styles in stores :) And I'm a natural fibre snob too!

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  27. pretend shopping - sometimes better than the real thing. no guilt.

    so I was trying to find your email so that I could send you an email about this sewing/blogging thing that I am doing but I couldnt find one anywhere on your site. can you email me (hellotruebias (at) gmail (dot) com so I can have your email address? thanks!

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  28. Ha! I love this post! I have pretty much given up on shopping since seriously starting to sew, but about a month ago I realized I really needed new jeans, and I am just not ready to try making my own pair yet. On a whim, I ducked into an H&M, which I too used to love in my first poor working days in NYC. I didn't expect to find anything, but ended up walking out with two pretty cute pairs of skinny jeans. I felt totally guilty afterward. They are the first new clothes I have purchased (besides thrift finds) in two years. I like that last dress you tried, and I think you rock the faux leather pants:)

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