Love Letter to the Dress That Always Fits

Dear Beautiful Dress,

I remember when I bought you, almost twenty years ago.

I needed a black dress for chorale concerts. I was in college and trying to find who I was. I wanted to stand out and fit in. I wanted to be special but not in the spotlight.

When I saw you in that store, I saw perfection. Your vintage lines were just what I needed. You were the external manifestation of everything I wanted to be.

The first night I wore you, a friend told me I looked like a character from Titanic, high praise in 1998.

In the years we’ve been together, a lot has changed. I’ve gotten married, had two children, entered my late thirties. I’ve gained weight. My hips are fuller, and my waist is less defined. Yet somehow, still, you fit me. You make be feel beautiful.

Thank you for staying with me, lovely dress. I’m planning to stick with you, too. No donation bins or clothing swaps are in your future. Let’s spend the next few decades growing old together.

Love,

Christy
#lovedclotheslast

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Missed Connections: The Shoe Story

This is an almost-love story. A tale of missed opportunities and what could have been.

Several years ago I ordered a pair of classic Oxfords. I never wore them as much as I thought I would — they came with frumpy bows and weren’t in style at the time. I wore them maybe twice a year for several years, and then the soles cracked. I kept the shoes around with a vague idea of repairing them and replacing the bows.

Fast forward to now, and Oxfords are back in style.  I set out to update my now-stylish shoes with new soles and simpler laces, hoping to add a standard back into my shoe wardrobe with little investment or environmental cost.

I took the shoes to a well-known repair shop and learned I would need to pay $70 to have the shoes resoled. I was shocked, considering that’s about how much the shoes cost in the first place.

Unwilling to abandon the shoes, I tried a smaller shoe shop across town, where the cobbler told me he could repair the shoes for $50. After examining the shoes further, the repairman guessed that even with new soles, the shoes would crack again due to manufacturing defects. He recommended I throw away the shoes.

I was so sad. The upper portions of the shoes still looked nice, but the structure of the shoes was so poor that they couldn’t be repaired effectively. I ended up donating the shoes to Soles4Souls in hopes they could be re-purposed for someone in need, even though I’m generally wary of companies that ship American used goods to other countries. Honestly, donating the shoes was a desperation move because I couldn’t bear to throw them in the trash.

What I hoped would be a beautiful story of revival turned into a fashion and environmental fail. I’m taking my sad shoe story as a reminder to purchase quality products that can be repaired rather than thrown away. Those shoes and I just weren’t meant to be.

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New Life for An Old Favorite: A Love Story

Woven pants from Liz Alig

Ever try on a piece of clothing and just know? I knew with these pants. One night at a Liz Alig trunk show, we were trying on various styles when brand founder Elizabeth Roney suggested I try on these crazy, printed pants.

And I was in love.

I didn’t buy them — not right away. They were not in the budget that night. I went home, and thought about the pants. And thought about them. And thought about them.

The fit, the quality, the beautiful recycled textiles, and — best of all — how they were made. With traditional fabrics and traditional techniques and workers earning fair wages. Weeks later, I bought the pants.

They quickly became a favorite in my closet. I wore them at least once a week. Wear and wash, wear and wash. And after a year of wearing and washing, I found holes in the upper, inner thigh area of the pants.

Hole in Pants

I put off repairing the pants because I didn’t want to hear a dire prognosis. How could the unique, woven fabric possibly be repaired or replaced? The pants lingered in my “to mend” pile for over a year and half. I didn’t even know where to take them or how to start.

Yes, I despaired of these gorgeous pants being repaired due to the unique nature of the fabric. But a couple of weeks ago, challenged by the fashion love story theme for this year’s Fashion Revolution Day, I bravely took the pants to the alterations specialist at my local laundry shop to see what they could do. I expected a sad shake of the head from the shop. I was surprised to find that the holes in the fabric didn’t phase them at all. They took the pants, and one week and $15 later, the pants were repaired!

Yes, the tiny Xes sewn over the holes are visible upon examination, but the inner patch material is not. The repair blends in perfectly with the fabric’s pattern and color and can’t be seen when I wear the pants. My old favorites are finally back in my closet!

The Pants Are Back

The lesson? I need to be nice to my clothes. Throwing that gorgeous, woven fabric into my washer and dryer every week wasn’t a good way to help my clothing last. In fact, much of my current clothing has been worn and beaten up by harsh wash cycles and frequent drying. While I don’t have time to hand wash most things in my closet, I do plan to use the delicate cycle on my favorite clothing from now on and then hang it to dry. I’m looking forward to extending the life of my wardrobe and saving a bit of energy, too.

I’m thankful this is one clothing love story that will last.

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