The beginning of this dress in my possession is one of those typical-sad stories of fast fashion fails: I was alone and depressed living in Brussels in late 2008, so I browsed shops for fun. And one day I came home with this flared strapless number. Fun fact, the proper name for a strapless neckline in Spanish is ‘palabra de honor’, i.e. ‘word of honor [that the neckline won’t turn into an embarrassing mishap]’.
I have no idea now how much I paid for it or what was the logic of this purchase as in ‘for what kind of occasions in my life will I be comfortable wearing this?’ I just liked the general air of it. It felt classy, elegant, dramatic, cool… all the desirables, you know.
From the very beginning the shape was good for taking photos but not that great for
moving living in it… because, well, boobies vs. gravity made me constantly fidget with the neckline instead of just being dressed.
The little corduroy bolero I had custom made was basically intended to cover all that part and be happy. The only problem with it that it gets hot in there, especially in summer or at dancing occasions.
What I wore for my high school reunion in 2015. I have another one coming up, I might repeat the outfit!
But I still loved the shape of the dress! So at some point between 2015 and 2017 – after 7-9 years of having not worn it for the most of the time – our seamstress got a couple of fine straps on it. It got better!
…but not perfect, as those boobies will still stay where they are, of course! Some fidgeting still…
And I kept covering the bodice with something else, essentially treating this dress as an elaborate skirt:
This has been a weird – and a prolonged – experience when looking from my current vantage point. For 10+ years I had had a clearly suboptimal garment I just kept clinging on. My only reasons were that I had it already and that liked some aspects of it. Dude! It wasn’t new, it wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t particularly well made, it wasn’t sentimental… but I just kept lamenting the very few wears in my spreadsheet reports (examples 1, 2, and 3) while not having the guts to finally get rid of it.
Even more, after 10 years, even with relatively few wears and even fewer washes / dry cleaning (this dress picks up all the fluff in the world), there was some wear. The original bodice was ribbed to keep the shape, and the fabric covering the ribbing channels was already too worn out to honestly consider this dress to be in a mint condition and try to happily swap it away.
And then an inspiration struck… Fuck the bodice! The skirt part was the one that I liked, the reason why I was unable to let go of this. And it hadn’t lost shape or been worn out. It didn’t seem to technically complicated either: rip off the bodice and the original zipper, add a new waistband + a new zipper. I didn’t dare to try and do it myself, though, not yet… so our trusted Latvian seamstress did her magic:
She also added a quirky bias tape to the new waistband, because she, unlike the Bangladeshi children working for HnM, cares about quality finishings!
Yes! Finally! This is now a functional and comfy garment… 12 years later. The waistband is actually quite wide, so the skirt can be worn to all family Christmas feasts. And on its own it is just a cute black flared skirt, nothing too much… I can wear it to dentist’s or any other casual outing while – finally! – pairing it with just the right top (and a bra) for the occasion that will leave my headspace free for the actual living.
A fun observation linking this garment and my 2017 acquisition fail: before falling for the WAG set in Cape Town, I seriously considered getting a similar yet longer black skirt. Hah! I had the right black skirt all this time… it was just hidden in a body of a dress.
Have you had any similar experiences with a successful refashioning of a garment? I was quite afraid as in several occasions before this one refashions hadn’t helped the garment, just added to the sunken cost bias… Or have you had a similar experience with owning something for many years without it being optimal but just being unable to let go of it for no good reason?