Saturday, April 04, 2009

What Women Are Saying About Clothing Today

Painting by George Frederick Kersting, c. 19th century

"And They Lived Happily Ever After"
by Maude Goodman, 1894

Folks, it is not just "me." I was sitting at a table today in a fabric store, along with some other women I did not even know. As we were all flipping through the pattern catalog, an older woman, who would be about 70, said quite audibly, "I wouldn't be caught dead in these designs!' She looked a little further in the pattern book and pointed to a dress and said, "Here's one that isn't even fit to be buried in!"
It is almost impossible to give a description of these styles that very few people can wear. In spite of their lack of real design, these garments are difficult to sew and do not fit well. I am talking about the patterns in Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, Burda and New Look, excepting, maybe, the historical costume sections. Some of the historical costumes were shown to be rather clownish.

Another woman there, was looking at doggie clothes in the pattern book and said, "They dress dogs better than they dress women!" She remarked about the patterns for little girls being "way out of the 'strumpet' category, and lacking in innocent sweetness for little girls."

"This is TERRIBLE!" proclaimed another woman, quite audibly. "Who is doing this? What do they think we are? We used to be able to pick a pattern and sew a dress and it turned out beautifully. These patterns look awful. No wonder women do not want to sew!" The new designs and some of the fabrics they require, are just too ridiculous.

I had to agree. I was just surprised there were no political-correctness police standing by ready to nab them for daring to call the designs "stupid."There was a short period of time, between 1983 and 1993, when patterns could be sewn without any adjustment, and the fit was not too tight or too low. You could sew a Laura Ashley for a grandmother, a mother, a daughter and a grand daughter and it looked good on all of them! These are some of the designs I often show in old issues of "Victoria" magazine. It seems like some designers couldn't wait to get rid of these lovely fashions and force all the crazy styles on us today.

"They are made by designers that hate women or want them to look ugly!" proclaimed another of the older ladies.

As you see, it isn't just me. These women were even more forthright in proclaiming their disgust and outrage at the current pattern designs. I told them I often buy the costume patterns and just make them with slightly different sleeves and hems, in order to have something more structured. People cannot tell they are costumes when you use fresh cotton fabrics. They are "historically inspired," instead of being actual costumes.

Many of the patterns are made for stretchy fabrics. These fabrics are difficult to sew and to fit. All the women at the table agreed there was nothing fit to wear in the pattern books today.

One woman said that we were just going to have to buy 6 yards of fabric and simply wrap it around us the way we wanted to, so that we would not have to put up with low necklines and high hems. She said she had been to India and admired their saris. That reminded me of a Bollywood video I bought on Amazon, called "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" (marketed as "Straight From the Heart" in the U.S.)*** I have to watch it a lot in order to count the many different color and design combinations of the Saris in the film. Though it is basically only a few pattern concepts, the designers managed to make many beautiful outfits from it. From a 6 yard piece of glorious fabric, the women in India manage to make it work in many different ways to create modesty and beauty!

Asian wraps and tops from Folkwear
We saw some wedding patterns that looked so ridiculous, it would make someone embarrassed to be getting married. I've had to look the other way when I saw some of the bridesmaids coming down the aisle. To be fair, it was not all their fault. The designs available to them are just so awful, that they thought they had little choice in the matter

I think women can do a lot to change things, just by rejecting these horrid styles and going back to beautiful, flowing clothing with lots of pretty details and trims. I was in a Ross department store and, hearing other women declare that it was like "twilight zone" with the styles to choose from, or hearing them remark that they were disgusted at the styles. I said that I was going to go back to the Victorian styles. I'm old enough now not to be affected by peer pressure, so I might as well do it. I don't have to work outside the home where someone would dictate to me what I have to wear, so I have the freedom to do it, and I will. I don't have anything to lose.

The best way to fire these designers and put the manufacturers of this trash out of business, is to ignore the styles and make your own or seek alternative, hand made clothing. Let all those horrid clothes sit on the shelf and go unsold. I doubt if they could even give it away to a poor country. Poor people don't want to look poor. I suggested in an earlier post, that women buy lengths of fabric, hem both ends and just use it for a wrap or shawl to put around skirts and blouses, if they can't find dresses they like.

There is a catalog called "Folkwear" which you can buy from Victorian Trading Company (which is also the one that produces Victorian Papers) . The Folkwear catalog features one traditional historic garment from each country of the world, from Tibet to Bulgaria. Some of the patterns are easy, and some harder to sew, depending on the kind of design of the garment. One day I am going to sew one of each and try them out to see their comfort level, as well as to see how they withstand the wear and tear of every day life. I don't think there are many patterns in this book that women could say were "disgusting" or "awful" or "horrid," the way they were at the fabric store today! When you see the cover of the Folkwear Catalog, don't be put off--that's an Edwardian petticoat. You can look inside the catalog here.

Garden Party Dress from Folkwear

***This is a nice, romantic movie that really does move the heart, which I will tell you more about later.