John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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For all my talk of being a clotheshorse, I'm really a complete amateur, and I'm happy to admit this. Pretty much everything I have is off-the-rack -- albeit a specialty rack to accommodate my specialty size -- and for the most part acquired at what real fashionistas would consider bargain-bin prices. The two exceptions to this are one suit, fitted for me at Men's Wearhouse, and my signature fedora (which is "merely average" in terms of fine hats but is still a "real" hat). In the circles I frequent, however, I am a powerhouse of fashion sense -- mostly because I work with a bunch of I.T. geeks, who as a species tend to think of a button-down broadcloth (sans tie) as "dressed up for work".

Within the constraints of budget and time, it's not easy for me to find clothes that I really like. I tend to follow Cary Grant's advice that it's better to buy one really good item of clothing rather than several pieces of junk, on the grounds that even if it gets threadbare, you can tell that it once was nice. And once I've acquired a piece of clothing, I tend to wear it until it is threadbare, if only because I'm supremely lazy and throwing out a worn out item of clothing means that I'll have to do the tiresome work of finding a new one to replace it.

Buttons and pocket seams in particular are my mortal enemies in this regard. Contemporary not-personally-tailored (i.e, "under $500 for a shirt") clothing is almost all factory-made in sweatshops overseas, where buttons and pocket seams are stitched an extra five times but not tied off because that would add a vital 75 seconds to the production time and mean only six hundred units per person went out that day. Stitching them an extra five times means that they'll last long enough to hang in the store, get bought, and get taken home, and really that's all the manufacturers care about. The fact that the seams will pop within two weeks is entirely the customer's problem.

In my case, it's a big problem, because I can't sew worth a damn.

It's not that I haven't tried! I've never had any 1950s notions about men sewing, even when I was a kid. I tried multiple times to learn the skill from my mom. Learning anything from my mom is a challenge (as I suspect anyone who knows her can guess), but I have learned a few things from her over the years. But sewing is not one of them. I can't keep a stitch straight, I can't keep the right amount of slack in the thread of a button to keep it from either being too tight to use or dangling off like a dead limb dangling off a tree, I can barely even get a sewing machine threaded without both breaking it, and accidentally having sewed two of my fingers together.

Thus, two weeks after I purchase an item of clothing, it either goes on the repair pile with an implicit "Pweeeeeeeeaze?" to laurie_robey, or goes off to Goodwill / a shelter / The Salvation Army. I hate putting things on the repair pile, as I feel like it's a terrible imposition on somebody's free time to beg them to fix your clothes for you, but at the same time, I hate throwing away a perfectly good shirt, pair of pants, or beloved blazer just because sweatshops are cheap and I can't sew worth a damn.

This past weekend, since she was mostly sitting around zoned on antihistamines anyway, laurie_robey fixed everything in the repair pile. In a matter of hours, I suddenly had almost a week's worth of "new" clothes, all in "good as new if not better" condition. She did this while stumbling around half-asleep! I couldn't do half as good a job on a single item with a perfectly clear head and a bard singing "Fix, fix, fix the inseam!" behind me.

She amazes me. She really does. She also saved several of my more favorite items from being discarded, which means a lot to even an amateur clotheshorse like me. ;)

-The Gneech

PS: New icon, for sartorial-minded or other appropriate posts. :) Just to give Archie Goodwin a bit of a rest from time to time.
Tags: sartorial agony
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