Monday, 10 September 2007

Too much of a good thing?

Long ago (oh, so long ago) when I was a spotty teen, hopped up on hormones, with far too much time and far too little disposable income, I used to be creative. I thought nothing of turning a pair of jeans into a skirt, finding some fascinating and cheap scrap of material and turning it into something even more fascinating and wearable or snaffling my mum's old clothes and reshaping them into something wonderfully short and teen-ish.

That was then. Now I'm too busy, I get paid and there's a shop on every high street corner where I can buy an entire outfit for less than £50. What's the point?

This, my friends, is the beginning of the end of my creativity.

I just don't do that sort of thing anymore. I own a sewing machine but I can't remember the last time I sewed (no, wait. I can. It was 1999. A skirt. It rocked.) Or altered a dress or nipped in a waist.

Fast fashion, disposable income, work and age have stolen the playful experimentation and imagination with which I used to approach fashion and replaced it with the grasping soullessness of a shopaholic. I want all the latest looks and I want them yesterday.

I don't know exactly how I came to this realisation but I don't think I'm alone. Up and down the country there must be women who could just as easily turn a old pair of slacks into this season's shorts who, instead, just go out and buy them for a fiver at Primark.

I'll bet that if we all spent as much time and energy creating the next big look as we did shopping for it, we'd have a lot more fun and probably a lot more money and the feted fashion designers who charge far too much for their exclusivity would be quaking in their It boots as their empires crumbled around them.

Or maybe not. Maybe not everyone is or wants to be creative that way. Maybe it's just easier to pick up a bargain on the high street, wear it once and chuck it to the back of the wardrobe than it is to actually make something. Sewing is, afterall, a pain. It's complicated and time-consuming. Sometimes it doesn't even work. Why go to all the trouble when you could spend a few hours shopping for instant style gratification?

Wouldn't it be great though, if you went out in an outfit of your own making and everyone wanted one just like it? You could tell them "It's one of a kind. I made it." I think that would totally be worth it. Maybe it's time I dusted down that sewing machine.

Antique Singer sewing machine image courtesy of The Smithsonian

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I like pretty dresses, high heels, the colour red and good writing.