There are times when it’s not easy to figure out (or finish it when I’ve started once :P) what should I write about, because there’re times when I want to do things instead of writing about them. Does it make any sense? No? No worries, I’m gonna explicate in a minute (or two, ok 10 max :)).
The thing is, I spent the whole past week (no exaggeration, really!) experimenting with my clothes. The heart wants what it wants, and I didn’t have any excuse not to do so. I like spending my time on clothes anyway. I like reading about them, searching for new inspirations, going to a shopping round (both online and in person) and buying/washing/wearing them. I also like organising my wardrobe, going trough all of it, folding, trying everything on, decluttering, making notes what I have to work on (need less or more from something). But customising them my own was a rare event. So far.
Nowadays, when everything is about wearing whatever you like, whatever is suited to your personality and body, and when it everything retro/vintage/nostalgic is such a big thing, I found another form to spend my time on clothes. DIY is not a new thing, and I was never afraid to transform my clothes, but it’s the first time, when I want to experiment consciously, and it seems I’ve got enough self-confidence and patience to do so.
Everything started with my vintage (Levi’s 501) jeans obsession, back then when I didn’t know anything about Vetements, Off-White, Re/Done and so on. Well, it’s difficult to recall whether the egg or the chicken was first, but in this case – mostly because Vetements is known about building and designing on what people like to wear -, I think, the retro fever came first. With a desire for an era when (seemingly) everything was better, easier and cooler. For the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. This is why we like vintage clothes and this is the exact reason why we adore Stranger Things as well.
Everything starts with something small, but in the era of internet, blogging and social media, everything spreads with the speed of light. It’s also an unconscious thing, you see it, like it or not, then see it again and again and again and more and even more, until it moves into your head with no intention to move out (well, until something new comes, but I’m not gonna start, as it would be a never ending cycle :)). The personalised trendy way of dressing. Oxymoron? Yes, but I kinda like oxymorons, they make everything more interesting moreover, exciting.
People found a new way, to get out from the hamster wheel, which was all about buying and spending and piling up cheap stuff which they don’t need and don’t wear. A unique way, which makes a difference between the Zara uniforms which everybody tends to wear, which become so boring after a short while. And I love this new way, I couldn’t love it more actually. The Levi’s 501 is the best fit what has ever happened to my body, because of the small but high waist, the straight legs, the great quality, because they’re great and practical match to my lifestyle, they’re affordable (or even cheap), and because they’re all one of a kind, which makes them the perfect subject to collect.
Vetements, Re/Done, Off-White and Reformation just to name a few, got into the process right in time with their fugly, expensive, but creative and interesting pieces which made the hype even bigger, so big actually, that now fast fashion brands are trying to copy them too, taking their part from the golden honey jar.
These offerings are not bad, not bad at all. Everyone brand has/had some interesting pieces at this point, which are fine enough, but nobody can copy true, preloved vintage stuff. Lets face it, vintage is vintage. It’s unique. Unique because, it’s not in production anymore, how was it worn, because you can chose what you (and your body) prefer, because of the characteristic fading and the even more characteristic little spots, rips or anything else what they got in years.
But this is not the end. After all we’re speaking about clothes, which can be easily personalised based on our own preferences. For example when it comes to vintage jeans, I like shorter hems (hello, I’m on the shorter side), lighter blue color, fading (whiskers, honeycombs and all), small, but high waist and button fly. But it’s also obvious, that you cannot get all of these at once on the flea market/eBay/Urban Outfitters/ASOS Marketplace/Beyond Retro or wherever you seek. Probably, if you can, congrats, you’re free to go, but before leaving tell me your secret please!
If you’re like me, with no ready to wear size and specific needs, you’re gonna love this. You’re, because we can easily help ourselves. Here is my secret; if I like the color and size (it had been a lot of trial and error till I found my size, so the best way is to try everything on, or ask for the real measures), I won’t think twice, because everything else is fixable. By a good alteration service, a taylor, your crafty mom. Or by you. And we’re right back where I started.
Probably I’m neither persistent enough to find a good (and not to expensive, which is a challenge already) tailor, nor patient enough to wait for the right occasion (travelling to Hungary for example) to get it done. Also I have some skills, which are never too late to get improved. And although I still don’t have my sewing machine, there are some DIY, which doesn’t require one either.
So if you’re like me or just simply curious after all of these thing above, here is the thing:
- Fraying. Frayed hems are trendy and go very well with vintage jeans. To do this, you only need a better pair of scissors. For even better fraying result you could consider to buy/use a seam ripper too. It’s not a big investment (I bought mine for £1.50), but it can make all the difference.
- Removing stains. Well, while some of the stains give to the unique feel, and you’re fine with the fact these things are used so probably not flawless, some of the stains are too big or badly placed. There’s no guarantee you can remove something without a mark, but probably you can make it paler. I have this fine stain remover (by Sainsbury’s) which does its stuff pretty well, plus it’s nice thing to have at home anyway, isn’t it? But a cheese grater could be useful too. (I tried these things and my big yellow stain become a faded yellow stain, which is barely noticeable anymore.)
- Making faded jeans. If you have that grater out (sand papers and pumice stones are great too), you can also use it to make your jeans faded here and there. I ordered some jeans on eBay which were fine in size, but not faded enough, so I used the grater to give a good kick start. Plus now I’m wearing them all the time (there’re suggestions to wear them by sleeping or inside out too) as that’s the best solution.
- Making holes and rips. To make these, I prefer using a sharp blade and again, that grater (and a spin in the washing machine) to finish the look. Don’t forget to place (in advance :)) something (a chopping board or sturdier cardboard) under the area where you want to place the holes.
- Switching and replacing buttons. It’s one of the easiest thing to do. For replacing one of the buttons on my vintage jeans, I had to order some (10 actually, by eBay for around £1-2) and I needed a hammer to apply it. It not just a better button, but I was able to cheat a bit with the waist size. Sometimes it’s all that matters. But switching off the buttons of your trusty coat is also a good way to give it a whole other look.
- Taking an inch (or two) from the waistline. Ok, this one needs a bit more craft, but nothing terrifying. What I did, is basically measuring the waistline (and my waist where I want the jeans to sit) and taking the surplus in by hand sewing. While this is not the most elegant solution (especially from the inside), it works for me.
- Rolling up sleeves and/or legs. If you don’t want to use scissors this is the best way to make anything shorter, but it’s also a good styling option. Actually I don’t really like this way when it comes to the legs of jeans, because most of the time they’re too long and sturdy to do it nicely, but I love doing it with sleeves. Rolling short sleeves up on an otherwise man/unisex tee, makes it more feminine instantly.
- Applying buttons, patches or embroidery. If you want a statement piece, which can do all the talking by itself, and have some patience too, it’s a great way to spice up any denim jacket or pants. Embroidery is trendy anyway, but I bet you, we’re gonna see those Zara jeans a lot in the near future.
So this is what I did and keep doing. I got a lot of experience and needed quality time with my clothes. I love, love, love all of my second hand finds from the moment I took an eye on them because all of them are different, easily recognisable. I’m living my life in them and still, I can’t get bored and still don’t want to buy anything else instead. Because getting dressed couldn’t be easier. It might be enough already, but customising them, is an even better feeling. My personalised trendy uniform if you will, which couldn’t be more me.
PS: I cannot wait my sewing machine to arrive. Not that I could put it anywhere at the moment, but still. Just imagine the possibilities. Never ending possibilities. 🙂