The last couple of weeks I've swayed from my usual diet of murder mysteries and have been reading some of Marian Keyes' chick lit novels (thanks to Displaced who put me onto them). Chick lit may be a rather unkind description in this case as her novels feature characters with deeper problems, mental illness and other issues; this sets these novels apart from the dime-a-dozen-with-pink-covers-and-curly-fonts books. Aside from which they are bloody funny. And Marian Keyes knows how to hold your attention; several nights in a row I've been up till midnight because of her blasted cliffhangers at the end of chapters.
Having read about women working in the fashion/beauty industry (Anyone Out There) I had a sudden urge to pick up a copy of Grazia, just for the heck of it. This was doubly fuelled by galloping through How To Be Impossibly French by Helena Frith Powell last night in a bubble bath.
I have a cup of tea on one side of the computer and Grazia on the other, and flicking quickly through the mag I realise that while I don't feel at least fifteen years too old and several kilos too heavy for it, I, in fact, am. I also don't have the budget to be a fahionista - or the longing, even if I was a lithe 25 again.
There was a time when I'd blow one third of my weekly pay packets on shoes and clothes (that bit about 25 relates to this!). This was the 80s and I followed fashion with a passion. Unfortunately! Of all the eras to choose...oh well.
These days I have my own style. I might pick and choose an idea of what's in style and try and recreate that with what I have in my wardrobe, some of which is vintage stuff I've bought from eBay, markets or op shops that comes in handy from time to time. Now I'm learning to sew (intermediate rather than beginner I think by now) I buy fabric and make clothes. Lace is in fashion at the moment. I made myself a lined stretch black lace suit for $45; would have cost about $200 in the shops. It's the nicest thing I've made, suits my body shape and is nice enough for business occasions.
My own style is rather dependent on how I feel when I wake up or what the weather forecast says. I have an eclectic mix of clothes from hippie style cotton kaftans (just perfect on those stinky hot summer days) to business suits (boring but necessary from time to time) to jeans and tshirts, a few pretty floral dresses for when I'm channelling the 1930s or 20s, plenty of knit tops that are transseasonal and clothes I've made myself including more knit tops. These last are clothes that look like no other - partly because I was a real beginner when I started and had to cover up duff necklines and other bits and pieces with additional bits of lace or fake fur or whatever.
My friend Sue, who is quite conservative these days, told me recently, "Some of the things you wear are really weird. But then, that's your style. If you dressed like everyone else you wouldn't be you." I think at the time I was wearing a hot pink tshirt and tights with an orange tunic over the top and red shoes. Or perhaps purple. I do prefer the term eccentric to weird though.
I did my bit towards eccentric/weird this week. I bought a copy of Burda a week ago, the German magazine (English version) which is packed chock full of clothing patterns. Really.There's a huge great pullout bit in the middle with patterns overprinted on other patterns and once you've sorted out which bits you're after, you trace them and bingo, you have a pattern. Stuff you can make - yessss!! This coincided with a 50% off sale at a fabric warehouse last weekend so armed with Burda I went to the sale and got some real bargains. More knit tops to make in beautiful shades of green, and a 1920s-influenced kimono thingy I'm going to make in patterned velvet.
|This is the top in question. This version naturally looks 100% better than the one I made!|
The Burda instructions for the kimono top said "easy" but I've been caught with "easy" before, so I bought some cheap purple fabric in a hurry (which on reflection looks like polo shirt material. Oh well) and some matching satin and thought I'd try to make it first out of the cheap material, to find out where any stuff ups could occur.
So that's been my nights this week, making the purple kimono. All went swimmingly until I had to attach the ties. There's a wonderful scene in the first episode of Black Books where bookshop proprietor Bernard Black is trying to do his tax. He reads the same paragraph over and over again and procrastinates, prevaricates and actually welcomes a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses to take him away from the task.
(Start watching at 1.40.)
Anyway, digressions aside, this is how I felt reading the instructions for attaching the satin ties. The instructions had been translated into English I think by a jokester or sadist who decided to leave important bits out. When I finally sorta kinda understood it, I realised it wouldn't work and devised my own method of attaching them. If I hadn't I wouldn't have been able to do the stupid thing up.
I finally finished the kimono-ish garment at nine last night. Can't wait to show my friend Sue, who will think it weird. But oh how I'll laugh if something similar shows up in Grazia this autumn!