A: One word: "fit".
Fit changes everything, and eventually saves both money and time, and the environment too.
Although I make (design and sew) nearly all of my own clothes, I sometimes like to take a tour in the mall to check out what clothing stores have to offer. Usually what happens is this: at first everything looks beautiful and fine, but after a closer look (or even trying something on) I find that the pieces are shaped totally wrong for my body.
I´m a pear, let´s put it flat out. It means that all the pants (that I am even able to pull all the way up past my thighs) leave an enormous gap at my back. If I´m lucky, the gap is somewhat mild, and I can fix it by sewing darts on it back home. But it´s frustrating having to sew even ready-made clothes I´ve already paid a full price of!
What about the tops then? If the piece fits at the shoulders, it´s a tent at my waist. If I want the waist to fit, my shoulders look like they´ve outgrown the piece. Great...
All this makes me feel like crap. Like there is something wrong with me, where in reality the fault lies on the clothes. Not fair! Fashion, style, and clothes are supposed to be fun and make me happy! It is like a huge playground that everybody attends (whether they like it or not) and are welcome. After all, we all need to wear something anyway, why not as well make the best of it?
Taste is another big thing when shopping for clothes. Although it is said that all styles are in fashion these days, I say not all shapes are! While styles do vary, the shapes of the clothes are always the same (have been for the past ten years already). Wide tents for tops, and skinny pants for bottoms.
In my eyes skinny pants don´t flatter anyone. I have not yet seen one single "normal" person that looks great with skinny pants on. They just make hips look bulgy. Who wants that?
Baggy tops again look okay in catalogues when seen only from the front, or the model sitting slouching down. But just take a look at it on a standing position from the side profile! They make you look pregnant. Depressing.
Fabrics, threads, buttons, zippers, patterns, not to mention sewing machines are not cheap. It is not necessarily cheaper to make an outfit than buy one. These days there are many international, huge clothing companies that are able to sell items at a ridiculously low price. So low in fact, that it lowers the respect towards the piece of clothing itself. Because it is cheap, and probably does not fit correctly, it is easy to ignore after a while, and just get a new one. Get rid of, throw away. This is where the money-saving aspect of diy steps in.
A self-made dress for example, one with a good fit and made by your sense of style, can last years and years, because you are satisfied with how you look in it. Yes, clothes are there to make you look good, not vice versa! And when you are happy with how you look in your old dress, shopping suddenly loses it´s point. You look your best already, why waste time on the subject any more? Go swimming or to the theater instead!
Lately I have noticed paying no attention to seasonal sales or discount coupons and codes. I know what I need and don´t need, and get them, and only them, when in need. Like today, when I was buying fabric for my next dress. The cashier lady asked if I wanted to register for such and such to get the latest news and offers. No thanks! I don´t collect stamps from my purchases just to buy something else a bit cheaper either. Something I would not otherwise have bought at all to begin with. Nor do I order a magazine because I can get a pair of earrings or a pillow case for free as a "gift".
What´s with the world? Are we really so greedy after stuff we do not need, and why? I know quite a few people who I think have made it a hobby to spend their time browsing all sorts of sources for the best deals possible. And then brag to their pals how they have just found something 50 cents cheaper than the other person. It has even become a way of life to some. What I do not understand about it is that how they do not value their free time over a few dimes/bucks. Or do they really buy so much stuff, that in the end it pays off? Who needs all the (latest) things the world has to offer? And where do they find the time to use all of that stuff they have gathered? That´s overwhelming.
I shop for things I need. That´s it. Especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I buy fabric, not clothes. It feels pretty liberating not having to spend time on going through advertisement for special deals, or running around in (too) many clothing stores, trying on countless of garments, and coming home with something I would wear only a few times before the cycle begins again. And still not be satisfied.
The importance of appearance is ever more important in our Western culture. Especially women are judged by their looks. I like the saying: "Beauty is to a woman, what money is to a man". Beauty is power. It is written in our genes.
I think I look better in my self-made, better fitting clothes, than I do in store bought ones. That makes me feel good. When I feel good about my appearance and thus myself, I am more happy. When I am happy, I treat the world better and "shine" positivity. That is then reflected back at me from my surroundings. Therefore I can live in a "happy bubble" around me. I literally make my life a happier place by making my own clothes. Sounds weird but according to the math above, is correct.
I have created a full system for my wardrobe. I have divided a year into eight "seasons" (according to the pagan wheel-of-the-year). For each season I´m in the process of making five artistic outfits for work. That equals forty different styles to wear during the course of the year. Each season lasts about six weeks. When it is time to move on to the next one, I fold the five outfits neatly into a box, and take out the next one. One with (eventually) five "new" outfits to take into use. That way I always have something proper to wear, in tune with the seasons. This rotation can go on for years and years, without having to buy much more. That saves a lot of time, money, and the planet.
I´m not saying everybody should suddenly start sewing themselves! I can only recommend following your own sense of style and liking, and building a working wardrobe from there. The path to it is up to you. I first begun by trying to make pants. Pants have always been the hardest fit for me. Even up to date I have not ever taken one sewing class. Only proceeded by trial and error. So choose your way, and even use a stylist and a tailor to get there. Sounds expensive, but in the end I´m sure it will pay off. And if you do have the bucks, they are well used on service like that. Better than buying non-fitting bulk anyway.
By now my diy wardrobe is more than half way done. Already I have noticed needing less money. Probably not on clothes alone, but as a side effect, to everything else also. I have learned to step out of the box and value things differently and more. It seems nowadays everything is valued by money alone. I have learned there is something even more valuable than money: my free time. Working is important, I do not deny that. It gives a person not only an income, but also a role where he/she can feel skillful, needed and important (hopefully!). But so much of our time awake is spent on working, that it magnifies the importance of off duty time.
As a result of not needing that much money anymore, I have chosen to work part time for the past four-five years (right now I am on maternity leave, but before that. And I will continue doing so after I get back on the wagon next spring). What a difference one more day off a week can make! Instead of five days a week, I have been working only four. That way I can spend more time with my small children, get a bit more rest, do housework while others are at work so when they come home I am there for them and not the house, and simply do whatever I want!
I have gladly given up that 20% of my (average, not sky high) salary to get more time off. And I have noticed that tightening my budget that much has only meant not buying by impulse. Even better!
Besides my own benefit from working only 80% of the time, it can benefit others too. Unemployment has risen over the past years. I feel like I am donating part of my work+income to someone else. That someone would not otherwise have even that. And when there are four more people like me, together we can create a whole new position for that someone! How cool is that?
Overall my diy wardrobe has made my life more enjoyable and even luxurious. It is luxury to know I wear unique pieces of clothing, custom-made for my own style and fit. Can it get any better than that?!