How to get the Luxe Look...

Taken from 'Me Made Metallic Number' refashion!

On Saturday I spoke at a swishing event in Hayes, the premise was that I was to give an overview of what refashioning is - whist also talking about the benefits of making a garment last longer, breathing new life into old clothes, that kind of thing. My talk was meant to bridge the gap between people arriving with their pre-loved garments, whilst they were being laid out - before the ladies were allowed onto the floor, to ransack browse the clothing rails :) I had such a lovely response from everyone there after my presentation! One lady even gifted me with vegetarian Easter eggs! (Thanks so much Terri!!) A couple of comments were made about the quality of garments that are donated at these swishing events, and it got me thinking about how people feel about clothes, what we are drawn to, what we feel good in, and what we feel is 'good quality'. (FYI, I came away with a Hawaiian shirt, and a pair of XL corduroy pants; I'm now planning a summery refashion... more on that to come). So... good quality clothing... what does that mean to you?
The blog post soundtrack for today? This song should be the swishing anthem! The Best Things In Life Are Free... ;) 

Interestingly, earlier on today I was e-mailed a blog post entitled How To Look Expensive - written by Beige Renegade - and it brought up the same thoughts I had on Saturday, making me question my values, and other people's, when it comes to getting dressed... is it important to you, to 'look expensive'? It made me wonder, for like-minded seamstresses and bloggers, is this a key driver when they decide what to do/wear/make..? Is it not, if anything, more a case of 'How Not To Look Cheap'..? More often than not, that does go through my mind.

The author of this post also makes a connection between curating a timeless capsule wardrobe, and wearing 'luxe looks'; resulting in the difference between looking like you're wearing high street, as opposed to high fashion...

I read the article to see how it made me feel (it's fairly short, I'd invite you to do the same) - and instantly drew parallels with each point, in terms of the decisions I make when it comes to dressmaking, and refashioning (all but the one about wearing neutrals... I'm not a fan of those, unless I've got a tan, they can make me look washed out!). 
To summarise, the points covered are 1) Tailoring 2) A perfect fit 3) Respect the iron 4) Beware of the logo 5) Essential accessories 6) When in doubt, wear neutrals 7) Think texture 8) Sound foundations and, finally, 9) The most important; Invest wisely.

I feel for seamstresses, points 2, and 3, specifically, can mean the difference between something looking homemade, and handmade. If you neglect to think about the fitting of a pattern, or refashioned garment, I feel it can look a little cheap. Surely what we're aiming for, in making our own clothes, is the perfect fit..? And No.3, ironing..? Don't even get me started... Sometimes, when I read dressmakers' blogs, I wonder how they end up with a dress/skirt/anything worth wearing - when they start the process off with a crumpled piece of material, I mean, HELLO? How is that going to miraculously end up smooth and fitted, when you've sewn together a pig's ear of cloth? (as you can see, it does wind me up!) I know that some fabrics are tricky to iron (very fragile) or show creases where they aren't any (one of the perks of being an enthusiast, VS a pro photographer) - but sometimes I do despair... Do I sound overly critical? OK - so maybe your fabric doesn't need a press beforehand, but what about during/after? Surely we all want that crisp finish, that non-bubbly hem, the look of a professionally finished garment?

But this isn't just about those of us who make our own clothes, it also relates to the choices we make when buying clothes... The article got me thinking about my fondness for lycra content in my wardobe... could this be considered 'cheap' looking? I don't think it's just me with a penchant for no-iron, comfortable, 'over-the-head' garments - especially when you consider all the patterns for stretchy clothing that are popping up all over the place, by independent designers like Colette Patterns, Closet Case, and Tilly and the Buttons, etc.; but structured, tailored clothing, has a reputation for looking expensive, doesn't it? Let's take a moment to analyse pics of three women with money, wearing lycra... or not.

Is this a fair collage for comparison..? Maybe it's a little skewed - but I will say this, these photos show these three celebrities wearing the kind of thing they normally wear (if my Google search is anything to go by). Kim and Paris love their bodycon dresses, Victoria is more a fan of tailored clothing (no lycra in sight... but then, she is a clothes horse for her own clothing line). If an alien dropped down from Mars, and was invited to comment on the photos, they wouldn't recognise tailoring as a 'luxe look' - but we are socialised in such a way that we know it to be expensive... Even if Paris has spent more money on her dress (likely) it doesn't correspond with the way we feel about her choice - or does it? I don't know! I'm assuming you feel the way I do, but I'd rather you told me... How do you feel about these outfits? More importantly, what influences you most when you're making style choices for your own wardrobe..? Equally, does 'feeling expensive' inform your practise, when it comes to dressmaking? And what in your wardrobe has the power to make you feel like a million dollars?
You know, at the end of the day, we are just talking about clothes...

Until next time...
Gema x


  1. Hi Gema! I had such a blast reading this article, and it was so refreshing to see that one of our articles got you thinking, even when it's in the specific context of seamstressing. On the topic of making clothes that people like to wear, I definitely agree that the same principles apply. I do agree with you that the desire to look expensive seems rather abstract, but perhaps because the words ‘expensive’ and ‘cheap’ rather confuse the issue. The base human desire is perhaps not ‘expense’ but self-worth and respect, and in a materialistic society, that is often associated with monetary value (and where value is predominantly conveyed visually, the appearance of value is often just as good). And as for why certain things like tailoring is associated with being expensive, I would think that it has more to do with the more general attributes of ‘quality’, which to me would include things like skill, time, utility and exclusivity. Tailoring is such a good example of something that encompasses all these attributes.

    1. Hi Jiawa!
      Thank-you for writing your piece! It's funny you should say that, since posting this I've received messages specifically regarding self worth and respect... I think there's much more to be said about it all, another post for another day?! :)
      But yes, quality is more obvious when it comes to tailored pieces... even though a lycra dress may take time and skill to create, a linen pair of trousers (for example) will always garner more admiration/respect for the maker... But exclusivity is priceless, and something that connects everything that a maker makes. Lovely to make your acquaintance!

      Gema x


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