There’s now a trend called fast fashion – I’m not exactly sure what that might be, but apparently it includes gobbling natural resources and turning out clothing that doesn’t last well. I was talking to my son-in-law about my sandals which are truly worn out, but, I said, I had had them over 15 years. He said I could probably find something like the worn pair; then added, “They’re not as well-made as they used to be.” “So, what you are saying is not to expect 15 years out of the next pair?” “Right.”
Probably today’s fast fashion lasts somewhat better than paper dresses, which were a craze in the 60s. That fad lasted about as long as the dresses did. One company offering them also made more traditional paper goods so you could match your table cover if you wished to either go all out or to fade into the woodwork. I don’t think I knew anyone that had one, but they were a big thing for about 23 minutes in 1967. The paper was more like the stuff wipes are made of than what you did your math on, but the idea was very cheap and throw away. If you didn’t throw it away you can now make about 100 times what you paid for it online, which might mean it has kept up with inflation. Or not.
I guess I’m a slow fashion person – the kind of styles eventually held together with mending, with a few new pieces added now and then. Mending has gone out of style for the most part, and it sounds dismal and Dickens-worthy, although it’s not if you have the right attitude. I had a green wool circle skirt once that got a few moth holes over the summer. They were scattered rather widely, but Mom had felt in autumn colors and covered them with falling leaves. It really was better than new!
Remaking clothing was a thing, too. Mom made my brothers little top coats out of two men’s jackets someone gave her – they were well made and cute. Probably no other little boys north of Boston had miniature top coats back in the 50s. She also unraveled adult size sweaters and re-knit the wool into kid sweaters. Remaking was a tradition – of the family, the state, or the times. My grandmother recalled a neighborhood seamstress being called in when her grandmother died to make the girls proper black dresses out of grownups’ black gowns. When I was in high school, Mom and Gram remade a deep green velveteen suit my mother had had in high school into a new styled skirt and weskit for winter events. I loved it, and wore it for quite a long time. I am guessing that fabric made in the 40s was better than that made in the 60s, even if it was velveteen. I made a couple of skirts of 60s era velveteen– it was not of a quality to bother making over.
The only bummer I recall was when I graduated from 8th grade. We were all very excited about new dresses and shoes for the event. A new dress would be money spent that we didn’t have. So Mom and Gram combined their talents and used a sunny flower print that Gram had bought for herself to make a dress for me. I understood all of the reasoning; I appreciated that Gram gave up her own summer dress to make mine. But I hated the dress. I didn’t SAY I did and felt guilty because I did, but I didn’t care for it at all.
You win some, you lose some. I’ve won a lot more than I’ve lost. But I still don’t look great in yellow and orange!