I bought this dress from a vintage fair in a hotel at least three years ago, maybe four. It was a weird event, you had to pay in at the door and the prices of the stall holders did not reflect this initial outlay. There was furniture and clothes and lots and lots of jewellery. Women were dressed a pin-up models and plenty of flashes were fired. I didn’t find much that I liked or could afford…except for this dress. I tentatively took it into the changing area and tried it on. It was ankle length and not exactly my kind of style. I had never owned anything so Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-esque before but something about it stole my heart. It was a little bit tight around the rib cage but I figured I could worry about that later. I paid the woman and we left mildly disappointed with the event overall but happy to have purchased something.
I enlisted the help of my mother to shorten the dress. I can hem things but usually mess up somewhere along the way (probably because she always does it for me…I might have to perfect the technique myself over the next year!). This dress had a beautiful lace trim along the bottom that I didn’t want to lose and so Monica was able to take it from the bottom and reattach it at the new above-knee hem length.
This dress is far from perfect. The velvet cuffs are frayed and it’s faded along the shoulders and arms. I think I may have contributed to this factor by leaving it on my rail which is exposed to the light. After this wear I packed it away in a drawer. I would hate to lose anymore of that beautiful floral pattern. It’s also still a little bit tight around the ribs. I don’t think that’s ever going to change unless I lose a rib or something but let’s not bank on that.
I sold a lot of clothes at the Flea yesterday. A few people asked me why I was letting ‘such good stuff’ go and I answered simply that it was time. It was time for a clear out. In doing so I found that I have lots of beautiful outliers—dresses like this one, patterned shirts, floral skirts and embellished tops—but no basics. I don’t own a single white t-shirt or muted coloured cardigan. I only have one pair of navy denim jeans and they are too heavy to wear in this mild weather.
These are trivialities, I know. But they are also the root of the ‘problem’ I have almost every single morning—finding something to wear for the day.
This year I vowed not to buy new clothing. It has been surprisingly easy, up until this point. I don’t really know what I will do but as I see it there are two options.
1: Stick to my guns and continue the way I am going until January when I will spend on quality basics. This seems a little futile. When a problem is identified surely it should be rectified.
2: Recognise that the not-buying was a great exercise and take a temporary hiatus in order to purchase some much needed basics that will make living, wearing and the all important morning routine a lot easier.
I don’t think I’m ever going to become a prolific fast-fashion shopper. I wasn’t really before but this exercise in not-buying has taught me that I really don’t need for much. So much of what is on offer on the high street is cheap, not necessarily ethical and poorly made. I had to break my fast in March to buy a jumper for a funeral and have worn it many times since. Today it looks old, stretched out and ball-y. Maybe it’s a tall older but I expect my clothes to last longer than six months.
I didn’t sell this dress. I might not take it to the States with me but it will be here waiting for me when I get back. Some things are too good to let go of.
*photographs by Richard