How to get dressed

I’m stealing the title of this post from one of the first books I read this year, “How to Get Dressed” by Alison Freer. I figured it was a good place to start!

Without turning this post into a book review, here are a few key things that struck me while reading it:

1. Clothes aren’t meant to fit amazingly off the rack.
I mean, obviously there are a few things I’ve always watched out for. I’d make sure I could actually fit into the garment, that it wasn’t too tight or too loose in places and it wasn’t too revealing. But my body type is different from everyone else’s. Expecting a mass-produced garment based on a generic pattern to fit me perfectly right away is unrealistic.

In the past, people always made their own clothes, went to a tailor who took their measurements, or took store-bought clothes and altered it to fit them. I immediately picked up on a few things with my current wardrobe. If the sleeves in this dress were a bit shorter, or if that blouse, was cinched a little bit more, then my clothes would look a ton better on me.

There are two ways of going around doing this: being more selective with the things that I buy, or altering the clothes that I do have. With the former, I’m not looking to buy any new clothes soon, but at least now I have a better understanding of the things to watch out for.

With the second point… I think I may resort to short term fixes like fabric tape, or, leading me to one of my goals this year: learn how to sew.

My grandmother was an amazing seamstress. One of my fondest memories was of her making a dress for my Barbie dolls. I regret to say that I didn’t appreciate it as well as I should have — I thought the dress was old-fashioned and I preferred the tacky, tarty outfits adorning my Barbie. It’s only now that I realise the skill that went into creating such a tiny dress.

I’m not looking to making my own clothes (at least not yet) but at least to make alterations to my current ones!

2. Clothes should be well-cared for.
This has been a trial and error for me. Perhaps the only training I had in garment care was when I went to student housing and I was told: “Here’s a tip. If you wash everything in cold water, nothing runs. And if you fold stuff right away out of the dryer, you don’t have to iron it.” So I spent the first few years washing everything in cold and going around slightly rumpled.

Since then, I’ve learned a few tricks, through trial and error:

  • Washing everything in cold just gives germs a bath.
  • Sometimes clothes still do run.
  • Don’t use the dryer for everything. It shrinks stuff. And wears at the fabrics too.
  • If putting clothes in the balcony, do it inside out, in the shade, otherwise colours fade (hey it rhymes!)
  • Laundering items is not enough.

If I wanted to look more polished and put together, looking rumpled is not enough. So last weekend, I took out some of my clothes and used my garment steamer on them to iron out the wrinkles. They look a lot nicer now!

It’s not just with clothes — I also took out my shoes and bags and cleaned them. Wiped them with a damp cloth to remove dirt, then conditioned my leather goods. Now my shoes and bags look a lot better, and I actually feel excited to use them again!

I guess when I had mostly cheap stuff, I didn’t have to worry too much about caring for my items. But now that I want to focus on getting quality things and using them forever, I have to be more aware of how I take care of my things.

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