Am I a snob, an enthusiast or a devotée?
My champagne taste extends as far back as I can remember… is it because I fell in love with the French language and culture in fifth grade?
I took a no-credit after-school class, loved it, and then won an award at the end of the term for best something and I was hooked! (I won a box of toffee!)
My mother started teaching me to sew at about age 10. By the time I hit junior high Home Ec class, I was insulted that we were required to start at the beginning, tearing fabric to ensure straight-of-the-grain to make an apron. An APRON! Really??? I’d already been sewing my clothes from patterns and this felt like a big step backwards. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly ingratiate myself to my teacher, nor did I ace the class.
Designer labels came on the scene
But my love of sewing, fabric, clothing construction and admiration of designers persevered. I remember being disappointed second semester when we were given the choice to make a Butterick or Simplicity pattern, ONLY. To my mind, those were “starter” patterns, too easy to make, boring styles, and not enough of a challenge. I was already thumbing my way through the giant Vogue Pattern Books at the fabric stores, and was especially enamored of the designer section. To my best recollection, the patterns cost a whopping $5-8.00 at the time, at least triple the cost of regular patterns! This was where I first learned the names – Issey Miyake, Christian Dior, Betsey Johnson, Geoffrey Beene, Claude Montana and so many others – the names seemed exotic, elegant and sophisticated from my Midwestern perspective.
Top-drawer fabrics were out of my reach, but I nevertheless bought the expensive patterns with the complicated instructions and 20 pattern pieces per garment. Clearly, I was overconfident in my abilities, but undeterred. The lesser quality and remnant pieces of fabric obviously resulted in an inferior finished product, but I learned a lot about Designer style and clothing construction. Plus, for better or worse, I honed my taste for the finer things in life.
Quality and style became my clothing mainstay
My mother taught me to match plaids, to taper darts, to understitch my facings so they’d lay flatter. All through high school and somewhat into college I made my own clothes, despite the fact that it was the 70’s and the style was bell bottom jeans and muslin shirts.
Upon graduation, I splurged and bought myself a NEW Kenmore sewing machine, one I still own and use today. (Have a peek at our dressing room curtains if you don’t believe me!) It had a stretch stitch and I was in heaven. When I look at what computerized sewing machines will do today, I’m astonished at how rudimentary it seems. But I put my stamp on a lot of Vogue designer patterns with that machine and I still love and appreciate its many virtues – all metal construction, simple and fast to thread, easy to clean and oil myself.
Resale clothing is affordable and elegant
I haven’t made my own clothing for quite some time now. Once I discovered clothing resale shops in the late 70’s and early 80’s it made financial sense. The price of fabrics and patterns rose substantially and I found I could buy quality women’s clothing resale/consignment for less than I could sew. And then there was the access to the designer styles and labels! Heaven.
HWGA is built on years of experience with name brands and designer labels
What remains, is my admiration for quality construction, the fine hand of a good piece of cloth, the finishing details that indicate a well-made garment. I’m a tactile shopper, touching the cloth, seeing how it falls and examining how it’s constructed. Those names from the Vogue Pattern Books and the newer designers that have followed in their footsteps still inspire a bit of awe. I don’t dress exclusively in designer labels, and some European designers just don’t fit me well. (Curse you, Prada!) So, am I a snob because I recognize and appreciate the quality that’s infused in a designer garment? I prefer to think of myself as more of a devotée, an admirer, an enthusiast;, someone who appreciates what’s involved in creating a garment with extra detail and construction expertise.
What comes with that is the recognition of why the names cost more, even at consignment prices.
At the same time, I understand the name is unimportant to a lot of shoppers, and I’m ok with that. But if you ever want to drill down and look at the details that make the difference, pull me aside. I’d love to show you why I love and appreciate the gorgeous used designer clothing that Here We Go Again is entrusted with by our wonderful consignors.