The other day my daughters made this:
Colorful feathers affixed to paper with glitter glue.
Then the next day they threw the leftover feathers all over the living room. And tracked it everywhere else. So when I was reading Sunni (of A Fashionable Stitch)’s latest thoughts relating to her Everyday Wardrobe project, apropos of her new haircut (so cute, by the way), I started thinking about what I wear every day. Living with two little girls ( 2 and 4 years old) is fairly physical-labor-intensive. Picking glittery feathers off every piece of furniture in our house is not even the hard part! Which means that the beloved vintage dresses I wore before I had children are taking a very extended vacation. I wore vintage clothes all the time, like here in my facebook-twitter-everything profile picture:
A little background on this photo: the dress is a gorgeous rayon velved dress from 1939 that I bought on eBay, back when it was abundant and not as expensive as today. The picture above was taken by Andy, whom I’d known less than a year at that point. It was for an essay I published in a collection of academic papers on eBay. I think I must have been one of very, very few writers of scholarly papers who included a photo of themselves posing in one of the dresses they wrote about in their paper. And her little dog too! (He’s now almost 11 years old.) It was fun.
This is the kind of thing I wear most of the time these days:
Plain & practical. I don’t know when I’ll wear that blue velvet dress again, or any of the other vintage lovelies I have stored away in my closet. It’s just no longer practical, and so no longer my style. Although… my love of Western boots comes from that same period of my life.
It’s not that I’m a radically different shape than I was back then (I was 33 when the photo was taken and I’m 40 now). So okay, having two children has changed my midsection but it’s more the shape and not my size that’s different. My hair is shorter and I look older and much more tired. Also, I usually have some kind of food-like substance smeared on my arm-shoulder-leg. And then there’s the fact that I pick up a lot of messes (on a good day just feathers in the living room) even if the apartment mostly doesn’t look very picked up. Life is just much more physically demanding.
So… what’s a good everyday style for someone like me?
Most days I wear something I made myself, and most days that means I’m wearing a peasant blouse. A version of the Róza blouse, to be precise. I’ve made so many I’ve lost count.
Since I don’t have that much time to sew, I want to make it count. Kind of what Sunni also says to do for a good Everyday Wardrobe. I love a beautifully tailored garment as much as the next person but I would simply never wear it. It’s just not practical right now, and it doesn’t really fit my current style. But peasant blouses do. They’re quick to make, easy to wear and move around in, and I mostly don’t worry about my daughters wiping their grubby little selves on me.
And then there’s the handwork, as is traditional on peasant blouses. Which I love because it can turn the simplest garment into something special.
But it’s more than that. I love how handworked details make it obvious that the garment they’re on was made by a real person’s real hands. I mean, most of our clothes are made by real people. They work long hours bending over endless rows of sewing machines, it’s just that the uniformity of the stitching, the lack of distinguishing details, etc. hide that fact.
We never stop to think about the people who make our clothes, do we? To me, handworked details are a great reminder to stop and consider just that.
For most of my Róza samples I did the handwork myself, usually embroidery. But I for this blouse I worked with a master artisan embroiderer from Hungary. The applique she did is from Buzsák, Hungary (the way they stitch there is one of my embroidery-style obsessions). What she made is stunning. A happy dance because I love this blouse so much:
It’s needleturn appliqué, like in one of the images in this installment of the Hungarian Sampler. It really turns a simple blouse into something special, doesn’t it?
I suppose that’s what an everyday wardrobe has to be for me: simple and practical but with something about it that makes you stop and look and appreciate the fact that what you’re wearing was made with true skill and care.
(p.s. sorry for the terrible photos. My camera is getting old and lately it’s been refusing to focus.)