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Mrs-O.com is a blog dedicated to chronicling the fashion and style of First Lady Michelle Obama. Founded September 2008. 

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Chat > Fall Fashion 101

Aurora,
In response to your question, I love sheath dresses; but beyond that, I’m an I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it dress shopper. As a result, I have a wide variety of styles in my dress collection.

The elements I look for are, as with everyone else, dictated by my shape and challenges of fit. I’m Michelle Obama’s height and top size but without the hips; so picture a cross between MO and a 16-year-old white boy, and that’s me. :-) That’s exaggerated, of course, but it serves to explain the things I look for. Because I have few curves, I have to rely on my clothes to create the illusion of curves and softness. So things HAVE to fit. I prefer hemlines that end at or slightly below the knee because I think that showing a lot of bare leg tends to emphasize height, and longer hemlines draw the eye downward. I’m also long in the torso, so getting the darts and seams to fall in the right places can sometimes be tricky. I also don’t care to wear the extremely low, cleavage-baring necklines that are so popular today because most of my clothes need to be appropriate for work; and I really can’t imagine myself standing in front of a roomful of college students showing all the “goods.” A few do, but I choose not to. I’m probably making this all sound worse than it really is. Everyone has challenges and specifications for finding the right garments, and mine are no greater and no less than anyone else’s; so I’m just saying these are the things I look for.

My lifelong love of sheath dresses is based on the fact that they meet a number of my needs. One is that they’re fitted. They’re also very versatile. They look sleek and sophisticated when worn alone and can be dressed up or down with accessories; they’re like blank canvases. I also love the fact that they can be changed with a jacket or cardigan. A dress with a jacket is one of my favorite looks.

Anything that I buy must have something distinctive about it, whether it’s cut, pattern, texture, embellishment, or whatever. So I browse a lot and try lots of different things.

I find lots of dresses at Ann Taylor, both the regular stores and The Loft. Dillard’s, as I said before, carries the largest dress selection of any of our department stores. My friends’ boutique has great unique pieces. After looking at the Talbots web site, I may give them another chance for dresses, although I don’t typically have much success there. Marshalls and Ross are also great sources for dresses at bargain prices. I love to shop when I travel since my area of the state doesn't have the higher end department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms. Actually, we finally did get a Nordstroms in Naples, but it's a 45-60-minute drive; so it's not someplace I can just run to every time I feel like browsing.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterMsG

MsG,

Thanks for the welcome. My hair is its natural color. It is like a brown color (better seen in the sun). I have never had my hair permanently colored. Back in high school I tried a fuschia rinse, which was pointless because you only could see the color in good light. I have been thinking about getting my hair colored a lighter brown or getting high lights, but I never build up enough courage to do so. My style right now is a wrap with chinese bangs. A wrap is basically the same thing as a bob. We call it a wrap down here because at night you literally wrap your hair around your head and then put your scarf on. In the morning you comb it down and it falls right back in place. I have a flat wrap right now, which means I get my hair flat ironed. When I don't have bangs i get my hair roller wraped, which means my hair gets rolled and it has alot of volume and feathers nicely. Oh, my hair is shoulder length. This is probably more than you wanted to know, but hey, I thought I would explain it to you.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 3:59 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

MsG,

I actually went back and looked at your post about your style. I should have remembered what you said about dresses because it is very similar to my taste. As with you, my choices are very much defined by what fits my body’s characteristics.

In your case, far from sounding “worse than it is”, it sounds to me as though you have the kind of figure that designers love to dress. By your account, you are not as thin (i.e. downright emaciated) as the models they use today, but I’m sure you remember when models were a size eight. I would say you are fortunate.

My figure challenges:

I am also generally between sizes six and eight, though I have been as small as a four and have also reached ten on occasion. While I am not tall (5’5”), I have very long legs and must wear tall sized pants or remove/reduce cuffs to get adequate length. When I began buying vintage I also discovered that I have somewhat broad shoulders. Sometimes, even in contemporary jackets, I get a better fit and line by removing the small, shaping shoulder pads that many include. In most cases, when I do this, the jacket’s shoulders do not droop; they lie perfectly on my shoulders. This also gives me a little more room in the bust. I notice that extended shoulder lines are re-emerging in fashion and I am wondering whether I will like that look on me.

I think I would be considered an hourglass shape as my bust and hip measurements are exactly the same. Based on the way that most dresses and suits are cut (i.e. to fit hip measurements a few inches larger than bust at every size), I guess that translates into relatively slim hips. But I have a fairly small waist so that I look somewhat curvy and it is the rare garment that fits at bust, waist and hips. Like MO, I am somewhat short-waisted, which is also a challenge in dresses structured with darts, etc.

Well, that all sounds pretty bizarre when I read it, but I made peace with it long ago and have tried to learn how to dress it. Though my fit challenges are different from yours, I have also gravitated to sheaths (ideally with some stretch in the fabric) as well as less structured knits and bias cuts that conform to the shape of the body rather than requiring the body to fit established proportions. It is also why I like separates and suiting pieces that can be purchased in differing sizes for top and bottom; peplums; draping and sarong-like effects; pants and skirts cut with fitted waists and pleats; and, for something different, the fifties-style fitted-bodice/full-skirted shirtwaists and dresses that MO favors.

One brand that I discovered last year that may be of interest to you is Black Halo. They make dresses that are very fitted, cut for slender hips, reach the knee and have interesting details. Besides their own website, they are sold at department stores like Bloomingdales, Neiman’s and Saks. Below I provide a link to the “Jackie” dress that I bought in early spring. (It seems that they offer at least some of the same styles season to season.)

click here

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 6:49 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

Nyon,

(Do you pronounce your name as Ne-on with a long "e" sound or is it more like Ni-on with a long “i” sound, or is it some other way?)

I agree with MsG that your style and tastes are “special”, as are all of our tastes. They differ, but also overlap in areas. That is what makes it interesting. And, of course, we all have some enthusiasm for fashion or we wouldn’t be here.

One thing I share with you is a love of jackets and tops. Well, I have to admit I love almost everything – but I especially love jackets and sweaters. When I think of buying for a new season or updating my wardrobe, the first thing I think about is a jacket in a different shape or cut. I have already purchased one for the fall. I always dread the end of summer and the shortening of the days, but new fall clothes give me a little excitement to keep my spirits up.

Another thing I need to tell you is that you can’t get away with calling yourself “old”, at least not on this site :-) I will venture to say that anyone here who is under forty is automatically in the “young” category. I have gotten old enough that I like to keep it ambiguous -- but, as a clue: I have a daughter in her early twenties (she likes to keep it ambiguous too) and I had graduated from college before she was born.

Now that you know that, I’m thinking you’ll be surprised to hear that I have Chuck Taylors too—two pairs of the high topped ones.

Also, you were pretty witty on the main thread yesterday.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 7:51 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

MsG,

My link above is not working. I thought I followed the instructions that Christina gave but I must have done something wrong. ( I knew it wasn't pink like the others I've seen).

Here's the web address for the Black Halo dress. You can paste it in the browser.

http://www.blackhalo.com/Catalog/Detail.aspx?CCode=0%5eCatalog&cid=105&sid=blackhalo&cICode=2502

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 9:06 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

Jerseygirl,

I bought a few dresses and blouses from Barrie Pace recently while they were having a clearance sale - very good quality and very good prices. I was pleased to get a Tadashi evening gown at a huge markdown.

I love Neiman Marcus and check their online site regularly. It is my source for Donna Karan. About twice a year I also drive to the Neiman Marcus store in White Plains, NY. (I live a couple of hours away.) As you are in New Jersey and I have seen you mention Woodbury Commons you may be familiar with that Westchester Mall, which has a Nordstrom and a number of higher end stores as well as the Neiman Marcus. There is also a Saks and Bloomingdales right in the same vicinity.

I also wanted to tell you that Victoria's Secret sells a line of cotton bras. I cannot speak for the quality as I have found that to vary in their bras. But they are cotton and they come in a variety of styles (full coverage, low cut, with and without underwire). If I remember correctly they are all what I call basic bras (i.e. not push-up and novelty).

I would guess that the sites I posted for the slips also sell cotton bras because they seemed to sell every possible kind of bra in every possible size. Another site that sells all kinds of bras is Lady Grace. I have also seen some cotton Bali bras on the Macys website.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 9:26 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

I love Tadashi dresses. I bought one this year as my newest addition to the huge " little black dresses over the past 25 years" collection that I own. Tadashi clothes are cut very well and are flattering to all types of bodies. There's something very classic - almost Greco-Roman - about them.

I found a Tadashi knock off at TJMaxx for $29.99 and carted it home for my daughter.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 9:45 PM | Registered CommenterBevi

Okay, you all are making me feel bad for getting up and dreading having to find something to wear every day... (grin)

Okay, just kidding. It's not that bad. Yet. I still have my jewelry.

I agree with everything JerseyGirl said. I'm beginning to think we were separated at birth! (bigger grin)

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 9:51 PM | Registered CommenterChicagoan

Aurora,

It is pronounced with the long "i" or better yet like nylon without the "L". I like fashion, but I hate shopping. I think it is because I am frugal or as my folks would say cheap. But I be in the stores picking up everything and then once I get to the register, dread starts to set in. I start thinking about what I could have done with this money and how I need to save it.

I love spring and fall because you can wear sweaters and jackets and you don't have to put a big coat on. Haha, what I mean when I say I am old is the young kids (my sister, brother, and cousins), they don't wear K Swiss. K Swiss were big when I was a teenager in these parts, but because I like them I will rock a pair. You're not that old. If I guestimate, you're probably around my mom's age, give or take some yrs. Nope, I'm not surprised that you have Chucks. They truly are universal and they were popular back in your day, right? Mine are high tops as well.

Yesterday, that was funny. It could've went bad real fast, but I'm glad it didn't go there.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 10:00 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

Aurora I left you a message on personal messages.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 10:41 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

Nyon,

I'm laughing because I think that it is still "my day" and I am trying hard keep it that way.

That is one of the reasons that I like this site. In addition to looking at the fashion, there are so many 50+ women here who are interested in life, in fashion, in thinking and growing their perspectives. It is an inspiration to me. Think about Alsace. She says she is seventy.

As far as the Chuck Taylors, I wasn't a big wearer of sneakers when I was younger and their original popularity was a little before my time (or my day, lol). Also, I'm pretty sure they were exclusively worn by men the first time around. But many things come back and so did they. I'm still not much of a sneaker wearer, but when I wear them, that's what I wear. I have a cream-colored pair and a black pair. I think they are very cute and they are certainly different from what my contemporaries are wearing. I do know I'll have to give them up at some point when I can no longer carry off "cute" without looking a little ridiculous. Maybe soon, but not quite yet.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 11:17 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

Aurora:

I never venture up to Westchester, so I am not familiar with that mall.

Barrie Pace has great clothes. They had a stand alone store here in NY back in the 90’s that I shopped constantly. The wool is the best that I have seen. It’s a great place to shop.

I normally shop Neiman Marcus on-line. I buy the majority of my clothes there. I will venture up to Short Hills to shop in person, but that is usually about twice a year. The Nordstrom near my home is pitiful. I only go there when I am looking for a particular St Johns or alterations, and nothing else. The shoe selection is the worst that I have seen. The Nordstrom in Paramus puts this one to shame. The best one that I have shopped is Tyson’s Corner in Reston, VA.

I went to Victoria Secret’s last year and didn’t like their quality (or the service). Macy’s normally sell cotton bras and I have another favorite. I am going to have a strapless bra custom made here in NJ. I have not had much luck with finding one that actually fits properly, so I am hoping that this route works.

I will visit the sites that you mentioned. I am always on the look-out for great cotton bras.

Are you near Woodbury Commons? I will venture up there around the holidays as David Yurman sets up shop until the beginning of the year (even though this year he stayed until March).

I normally have cocktail/evening wear custom made. There is a gentleman in my area that is excellent. All you need is a picture, and he does his thing. I generally look in the magazines and find something that I like and take it to him. I am very impressed with the results.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenterjerseygirl

Aurora,

That is too funny that you noticed those words because I pondered over how to say it. At first I had "back in your youth", then I was like no I won't say that because it makes you seem old. I should have said "back in the day" or "when you were growing up". So Chucks were before your time? Wow, they have been around longer than I thought. Anyway, I mean no disrespect nor am I trying to say that it is over for you. From what I see on talk shows and books, life really gets better after 40 so I am trying to make it there and beyond.

I hope all of you ladies know when I say "old" or something like it, I don't mean it in a bad way. I just mean older than me. I like being a youngster on here because I get to soak up all of you ladies' life experiences and wisdom.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 12:41 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

Nyon:

You are the "baby" of the group. Like a little sister, or at my age, a daughter (smile).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commenterjerseygirl

Jerseygirl,

You sound like a real luxury level shopper. I have that side of me too, but I also love bargain shopping. Sometimes it is possible to combine the two and, for me, that is the best of all. Then too, I like to mix it up – the high with the low. I can remember shopping in Neiman Marcus one summer, wearing a pair of sandals from Target or somewhere similar. Women kept stopping me to find out where I found them. I don’t think they had ever been to Target. My friends say I can find something in any store.

I am in upstate New York and Woodbury Commons is a bit of a trip for me so I don’t get there as often as I would like. That may be a good thing .There is so much there that I find I have to focus on a couple of places and set myself some limitations.

Westchester/White Plains is not very far from Woodbury. I think that Woodbury is exit 15 or 16 on the NYS Thruway and White Plains is exit 8 or 9. (They seem to be constantly re-building and changing the roads and exits in that area.) Based on what you say about your tastes, I think you would like the Westchester mall. It is very upscale and you don’t often find a Neiman’s and a Nordstrom in the same property. They also have Tiffany, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Stuart Weitzman shoes, etc. And I mentioned the Saks and Bloomingdales nearby. It may be worth your time when you are in the area, though I suspect you may get a similar selection at Short Hills. I have never been there but have heard that it is a great shopping trip.

I used to do quite a bit of shopping in New Jersey – Paramus and, years ago, Secaucus – but I haven’t made that trip recently. With the advent of online shopping, I think I have gotten a little spoiled and lazy about venturing out. I also find that I can feel impatient in the stores and the sales staff can sometimes seem unhelpful, unknowledgeable, etc. It is probably me more than them – as I have gotten accustomed to immediate purchase and checkout online. Of course the problems with buying online are not always being able to perceive colors and fabrics accurately and uncertainty about fit if I have limited experience with the brand. I just try to take that into account and realize that a few returns are probably going to be necessary.

I envy you having someone who can make things for you. Some of the things I like are fairly simple (pencil skirts, sheath dresses) and I would lke them to be cut to my preferences and to fit perfectly. I sometimes think I should learn to sew, but I know that my patience is lacking. I should spend some time trying to find a good seamstress or tailor. I could probably start with the stores in my area that offer onsite alterations. Their alterations staff may be willing to take on extra projects on their own time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

Nyon,

I take no offense. The idea that my day was in the distant past struck me as funny -- as if it was somethng that had happened while I was not paying attention. At your age, that is just the way you think of it and phrase it. I understand that. The truth is that for some people it is accurate --but, thankfully no one here. (Well, there have been a couple of posters on the main thread who seemed to be a little stuck in “their day” – one complaining about Michelle not wearing a girdle and another referring to some sort of airline dress code that I don’t think has been in effect for decades.) It is good to have a certain amount of respect and appreciation for the past, but in my view, there is nothing more aging than a constant focus on the way things used to be.

In addition to taking care of one’s health and appearance to the extent possible, I think that handling age well has a great deal to do with being open to new ideas, accepting change and keeping an enthusiasm for new experiences and personal growth. It is not always easy, but that is what I try to do. I don’t know if life is better after forty. I suppose it could be, but every decade has its own pleasures if you are able to appreciate them.

To get back to some form of fashion subject matter, I can tell you that the Chuck Taylors go back to the 1950's, at least, and were once used in professional basketball. They have been on the market to one degree or another since then, but lost broad popularity to sneakers with a different silhouette and more specialized structure/support for running, aerobics, sports, etc ( e.g. Adidas, Reebok, Nike.) That is the period that I remember. Before that, I think sneakers were just sneakers and were all purpose. And that is the extent of your history lesson for today -- as I am certainly no expert on sneakers.

.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 2:53 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

Aurora:

When I was starting out in my career, I shopped anywhere, but still wanted nice, quality clothes.

As my career progressed, I decided to go for higher-end so that they would go from year-to-year and still be timeless. I have never liked trendy fashion (which would last one season and look dated). I always liked fashions that would last until I grew tired of wearing it. I still LOVE to dress and do so on a regular basis. I have always loved fashion.

When I am at Woodbury, I am so adapt at shopping, that I can look into a store for a few minutes to see if anything is my taste. If I don’t think that it is, I will keep moving. If I don’t think my instincts are correct, I will browse (no longer than five minutes). I don’t like to go with people who have to comb every inch of a store and come out empty handed.

My grandfather would always say “buy the best and it will last forever”. I have followed that advice and found it to be true.

Since there is no sales tax on clothes in New Jersey, a lot of New Yorkers come over to shop. Paramus on the weekend is crowded. It’s like Christmas in June. Having to follow people to their cars for a parking space is not my idea of fun, but I will do it on occasion.

I found the gentleman in NJ that makes cocktail dresses/gowns through my neighbor. He made her daughter’s cotillion gown and it was nothing but ruffles from the waist down. He made it from a picture and it was the most beautiful gown ever. I was using someone else, but his work was much better. When I wear his gowns, no one believes that they are made.

I always hated sewing (I can’t even hem). I remember having to take sewing in high school. We made a jumper and had to wear it to school for our grade. The one I made looked like a pillow case with two straps. I wore it when I had the sewing class first period so that I could go and change afterwards. It was dreadful.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 3:07 PM | Registered Commenterjerseygirl

Jerseygirl,

Lol, I remember those high school sewing classes. We too made a jumper. I could never understand why; no one was wearing jumpers at the time. I suppose it was in the course outline that had been in use for years, perhaps decades. Mine came out fine as far as the construction of it, but was of no use to me. I would have never worn a jumper under any circumstances -- though, like you, I was required to put it on for the class. Now that I remember it, the finished jumper looked very similar to these sheath dresses that I have gotten to like so much. But I had no interest in anything like that at that time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 3:59 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

Aurora:

Sheath dresses are one of my favorite designs. I wear them constantly.

I also liked drop-waist dresses from back in the day. I still have a few that I wear.

My high school jumper did not even remotely resemble a sheath. I could have cut the straps and used it on my bedroom pillows. It was awful. I did wear jumpers with turtlenecks when I was in school, but that jumper wasn't something that I wanted to ever be seen in again.

Oh, the memories.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 4:40 PM | Registered Commenterjerseygirl

Nyon, as one of the "oldsters" here, I can confirm that Chuck Taylors were the very thing in the 1950s--my husband wore them as late as the mid-1960s when he played high school basketball. I thought it was hilarious when our son "discovered" them in 1988. He wore those red hightops until they fell apart. Too funny.

And, yes, the memories of junior high school home ec class. . .fortunately, we didn't have to make a jumper, but I do remember a truly hideous orange and white check apron with lace on the bottom. It was a gift only a mother (my mother in that case) could love. But, I loved to sew my clothes, in part because I am tall and hard to fit and spent much of my youth overseas, where only the clothes in the Netherlands and Germany fit my shape. I made my first dress (a hideous yellow and brown cotton polka dot number) at the age of 10. In high school, college, grad school--and later as a young married or as a young mom--my taste in fashion always exceeded my budget. Vogue Designer patterns were the answer, given one could find the fabrics. I hardly sew any more because now because my vision's not what it once was and I can afford to buy what I like (and no one carries "good" fabrics anymore, it seems). Thank goodness for my alterations lady; I am so spoiled, I don't even do minor alterations or hems any more. C'est dommage.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 4:57 PM | Registered CommenterNancy

My sewing class made an apron too. That was the first project. We were working up to the jumper. I remember that everyone one else chose cotton gingham fabric and their completed aprons were very frothy lookng and cheerful. Always going my own way, I had chosen a fabric that I thought to be more sophisticated (for an apron, lol). I think it was some kind of sateen. It was heavier than the gingham and lacked body -- so my poor apron was droopy and sad.

Nancy,

I remember looking at the Vogue catalogue of patterns when I was shopping for the apron and jumper supplies. The pictures were fantastic. I kept wondering why we couldn't attempt something like that. I also wondered why our teacher, who was actually highly skilled at sewing and made her own clothes, did not wear something like that. All the home economics teachers that I can remember were very dowdy.

Since you mention fabric, I now remember that many department stores once had fabric departments. I think sewing was a much more common part of life. I don't know when that changed. My mother did not sew very much, but my grandmother could make anything, from simple day dresses to fully tailored suits and outerwear. I have learned to do my own very minor alterations -- mostly lengthening pants. But I wish I had the skills and temperament to make garments. Right now the best I could hope for would be a sarong.

Jerseygirl,

You made me laugh about those jumpers. I don't think they teach that any more. I don't remember my daughter ever making any kind of garment in school and that has been years ago in itself.

Nyon,

You have received a better history lesson than I expected - not only Chuck Taylors but aprons and jumpers as well.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 6:00 PM | Registered Commenteraurora

I appreciate the history lesson. I knew they were basketball shoes. I just looked on the website and it said they were first made in 1917. Way before any of our time.

In my home ec class we had to make a pillow. I made a Mickey Mouse pillow because he was my signature cartoon character back then. We also learned how to sew on a button and that was it. Home ec has definitely changed. I had to take that little baby home and you had to treat it like a real baby. The computer on the inside let the teacher know if you were neglectful. I knew I would get an A because I love babies.

Jerseygirl, Lil sister or daughter, it's all good!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 7:42 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

Nyon, "the baby," you're going to be spoiled by all the moms and big sisters on this site! :-) I'm definitely in the mom category, since as I've said before, you're exactly my daughter's age. And you remind me quite a bit of her. She, like you (or at least as you seem) is beautiful both inside and outside, she's also delightfully lively, and she like you enjoys the company of and relates quite well to people who are older than she is. That may be attributable to the fact that her dad and I were a little older (I was 38) when she was born, and she has two older brothers whose "torments" motivated her to become self-assertive very early in life. :-)

Aurora, thanks for the Black Halo site. I love the Jackie dress. I completely relate to the problem with pants length; that has always been my chief obstacle to fitting myself in pants. A couple of years ago, when I was doing some serious jeans shopping, I discovered that the Gap--online only--carries an extra-long inseam (36"!!!!). I ordered two pairs, and they're wonderful. In fact, they're actually a little too long when I wear them with flats, but I refuse to hem them because it feels so good to have pants that long!

Jerseygirl, you also reminded me of my daughter when you described your shopping strategies. My daughter has always amazed me with her ability to scope out a store and be ready to leave while I'm just getting settled in. I'm one of those browsers you mentioned, except that I rarely leave empty handed. I never take an item off a rack to look at it without hearing my daughter's voice in my head. Because she shops more the way that you do and I browse and look at anything that even seems to have remote possibilities, she gets very nervous that I might actually buy something she finds particularly ugly, so she whispers, "Mom, JUST SAY NO!" I have to smile every time I think of that. Except for shopping trips with my daughter, shopping is rarely a social activity for me, unless it's just browsing. When I need to find specific things, I always go alone so that I'm not distracted.

I missed high school home ec because for some reason, home ec was not included in the college prep curriculum. I've never quite understood why academics and homemaking were considered mutually exclusive interests, but I guess that must have made sense to someone. Therefore, it never fit into my schedule. Hearing your stories, however, I think I've finally made peace with that--LOL. Doesn't sound like I missed much! I did sew, however, for many years; my mom taught me. I made my own clothes through high school, college, and young adulthood. I still do minor alterations for myself and occasionally make window treatments or pillow covers; but I no longer have the patience or motivation to make clothing. The last time I worked with a pattern was about 5 or 6 years ago--and it had been MANY years before that--when I had just joined the church which I now attend. Eager to get involved, I quickly responded to the pastor's request for people to help make new costumes for the children's Christmas pageant. Only a small number of the costumes were being replaced, so each volunteer was assigned one garment (thank God!!!!). That experience taught me that I no longer have the patience for such detailed work--and a shepherd's costume is NOT really very detailed; so I think we can all imagine how well I'd do on a real garment for myself. NOT!!!

I do my own hems and such. And I can do zippers, but when my tailor will do them for $20, I have little incentive to do that tedious job myself. I miss the availability of on-staff tailors in department stores and women's clothing stores. That used to be a standard service of all stores, and the prices were quite reasonable.

I'm soooooooooo weary right now of summer clothes. I have another month or so to go before the temperatures start to drop significantly, but I'm ready for it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 11:03 PM | Registered CommenterMsG

Reading all these comments makes me nostalgic. My mother and I used to sit for hours looking at the Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity and McCall's pattern books at the department stores. The stores had nice, large departments with fabric and big tables full of books. Also sewing and knitting areas, with yarns and patterns. My mother taught me how to sew and by the time I hit home ec class I thought I knew as much as the teacher, which didn't go over very well. On another subject, that was also the first time I saw lard. Funny the things that we remember. I don't ever sew now, just mending and hemming, but hope when I retire someday to sew again.

And Chuck Taylors, or as we called them, Converse All-Stars, were very popular when I was in high school, in the early 70s. People wore them in school colors, often changing the laces to create a combination that reflected the school.

J Crew does alterations for free if you have their store credit card. Nordstrom is pretty good about free alterations if it is a regular priced item.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 12:22 AM | Registered CommenterGroovy

My grandfather came from Bohemia and made his living in NYC as a tailor. As a little girl, I sat beside him as he pedaled his sewing machine, and I played with his flat, smooth pieces of tailor's chalk. He had a button box that fascinated me.

I learned to sew at an early age - but also learned through the Home Economics courses in Jr. High. As a young hippie, I made silk dresses by piecing together cheap scarves and adding elastic under the bodice. I also made many
dresses for my friends using the Indian print bedspreads cut on the bias and edged in colored binding tape.

Oh, those were the days. Then, just before I had children, I started a durable goods business and had a little cottage industry here in Vermont. We made handpainted baby quilts, pillows, and custom items. The recession of the late 80's wiped me out, but I had accounts with Saks, Bloomies, Bendels, Gimbels, and others. It was hard to keep on going when I had to wait 3 months to get paid by some of these big retailers!

I remember making the sweetest red flannel bathrobe for my little boy. After a few washings, it was the softest, coziest little wrap-up.

Sewing is such a satisfying art. I have been thinking about resurrecting my sewing machine and making simple dresses for my daughter. Clothes are so expensive now.

I love my local tailor. He has re-crafted dresses and suits for me that give them a timeless look.
He, like Jersygirl's tailor, can create lovely pieces from pictures, or from old pieces I own that I can't find anymore, My sister brought me a lovely sleeveless blouse from Italy that I wore to tatters. I bought some great linen in Montreal, brought in the blouse, and Voila! - a week later I had a terrific knock-off.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 9:11 AM | Registered CommenterBevi