Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Now accepting hand outs

The blouse I'm wearing today is brand new. I just got it last weekend. Now before you cry foul and chastise me for violating my own 90-day shopping moratorium, let me finish. This blouse is brand new to me. My mom gave it to me. It wasn't a proper gift or anything, it was basically "here I don't like this on me, you can have it." I politely put it in my closet and silently thought, "this will go to the consignment store my next trip" (sorry Mom).

Today, I took it out of my closet and got a good look at it. It is white. It is sheer. It is one size too big. Not only does it have a dot pattern, but it has ruffles too. It is hard to see in the picture, but it has ruffles on the sleeves, at the neck and even running along the upper part of the back. Why? Not sure really, all I know is that for one blouse, it has a hell of a lot going on. Perhaps this is why Mom decided she didn't want it.

Not one to shy away from a fashion challenge, I decided to take this blouse -- with all its variety -- and wear it. I figured on a black skirt and accessories -- black and white is always modern. Unfortunately, one trip to the gym did not fix the problem with my black skirt not fitting. I tried on my pale gray skirt, but it is a very full A-line, almost a circle skirt. The volume of the blouse needs to be balanced. What's a girl to do?

I pulled this gray and white striped skirt from a suit. Breaking up a suit is a great way to economize and get maximum use out of something you already have. If (like me) you have suits, but do not wear them on daily basis, you can treat the jacket and bottoms as separates. Try wearing the skirt/pants with a blouse on Monday. Wear the jacket over jeans for a more tailored look on Friday (if you are lucky enough to wear jeans on Friday). If you have to travel for work you can get 3 outfits by wearing the suit, then the jacket and the skirt/pants separately. You get the idea.

Just remember, dry cleaning and washing fades your clothing over time. Though the fade is slight each time, you need to ensure your suit's color remains consistent so it is a perfect match when you wear the pieces together. To keep the color consistent, dry clean or wash both pieces at the same time -- even if you wore only one part of the suit. In that vein, I advise taking any free clothes that come your way because you'll need the extra money for dry cleaning.


  1. This is a very good and often overlooked observation. As a decade long veteran of the dry-cleaning industry, I can say with authority this posting is very good advice--If you are going to clean any piece of a set, always do them at the same time.

    Having said that, I have many wool items, plenty of linen and silk blends, ties, suits, cashmere and leather. I have things that, though cotton or synthetic, inexplicably say "dry clean only" on the care label. So would you believe that I have not visited a dry cleaner more than a couple of times since I left my post at Ivory Cleaners and Alterations (still the best value in Austin, note) over 7 years ago?

    I kind of feel it's a farce. I handwash many things with Dawn dish soap, as I learned how to do behind the scenes at Ivory Cleaners. I spot clean things, air things out, wear them 20 times if there is nothing visually (or olfactorily) wrong with them. I Febreze my boxers. Kidding!!

    There are a few exceptions to my resistance to accept this ritual of day-to-day American life--Italian suits, for example. But I've found that my Haspel cotton khaki suits are actually machine washable! The Brooks Bros., D&G and the like are worth the 15 bucks or so for a good spin in perchloretylene and a steam pressing from time to time. Another exception: black jeans. No other way to keep them that inky color you paid 100 bucks for.

    And then, for a guy, there is nothing quite like the luxury of a freshly laundered dress shirt...to paraphrase a scene I happened upon on a trashy CW show last night, "use once and throw away."

  2. You make an excellent point. I plan to sing the praises of Downy wrinkle releaser in a later blog. Yes, wear more than once if you can! This lazy girl does not iron, but maybe 4 times a year, so I rely heavily on my dry cleaner for the pressing.