The RTW Debate

I’ve been enjoying a little RTW indulgence since completing my three month fast at the end of the year. I justified this by buying things I couldn’t actually make for myself: namely a couple of pairs of Winter boots, one or two (ok so maybe three of four, Chris of handmadebychris I’m invoking the ‘cashmere rule’) cashmere cardigans from the Boden sale and a couple of pairs of high-waisted jeans (the only type of jeans I’m buying from now on). So far, so good! These are all investment pieces that will last me for many years and they’re totally plugging the gaps I’d identified during my fast.

In theory, although I’m not (yet) placing myself on another RTW fast, I shouldn’t need to buy anything else for the next couple of months and then I’ll reassess what gaps there are in my Spring/Summer wardrobe and take it from there. Although living in Northern England doesn’t require a great deal of warm weather clothing sadly…

But then whilst browsing the end of the sales rail in my local M & S, I came across this. And I was annoyed because this is exactly the kind of dress I’m make for myself. It’s blue 😉 (and black and silver), a knit fabric, super comfy (kind of stretchy sweat-shirting) and really easy to wear (with black jacket for work or cardigans for casual). I could totally make this, but for the lovely price of £9.99? Probably not. And could I actually find this fabric? Possibly something similar if I had the time to look around for long enough, but in the short term probably not. So I bought it, and it’s been worn and admired already (it’s incredibly warm too). But I’ve broken my rules and feel like it’s a really ‘naughty’ purchase.

So I’m interested to hear your views on this readers 🙂 Do you apply similar rules to yourself, banning any purchases you could easily make for yourself? Do you find this ‘price and time’ problem too? And should I be so annoyed with myself for buying such items?


50 thoughts on “The RTW Debate

  1. Don’t be annoyed at yourself! I think there’s nothing wrong with RTW purchases 😊 this dress suits your style and taste, so it’s not like you’ve gone out on a limb with something wild and wacky. I also think as as sewist that sometimes is nice to treat yourself to something RTW from time to time!!

  2. Absolutely not! It would have been rude not to buy it when its clearly you! I think its perfectly reasonable to have a mix of rtw and memade items. Sewing should be pleasurable not a chore. Enjoy your wardrobe in its variety.

  3. I understand your guilt. For me the whole RTW debate is not just about whether I could make it and for what price, but also about sustainable and ethical production values. As people trying to live carefully and intentionally we have to cut ourselves some slack occasionally particularly if we know it’s a purchase that will actually be used, appreciated and worn. Each one must do what they can when they can. We none of us are saints and should not feel we have to be.

  4. Thats an interesting question you pose. You shouldnt feel naughty at all. Its a bargain and you love it. Thats all that matters 😘. I personally dont like shopping for clothes – never have really. That was mostly because I was constantly skint. I loved charity shops and car boot sales where I got 99.9% of my wardrobe. Now I just get stuff online if I have to but thats things like thermal underwear socks panties – things I cant yet make myself. I think its great to make goals to aspire to but its also ok to go offroad once in a while. I bet you look amazing in that dress. You could also say its research into construction of such dresses. Seeing what you like means you can implement that in your sewing😃.

  5. I’ve not bought anything new RTW for ages (charity shops don’t count) but if I saw something that really was just right I probably would! That dress must look great on you and, as Hila says, you can always call it research! Just enjoy it.

  6. Agree with everyone ~ cut yourself some slack & enjoy this! I’ve done the same thing in shops: first, could I find the fabric? That’s been the most difficult. Why don’t manufacturers weave their cloth with stripes going up & down??? Many (most?) of us would much rather look taller! (Sorry, getting off my soapbox now.) After finding fabric, then it’s time – could I do it in a reasonable amount of it? But you mentioned boots – WHERE are they?!?! Are they Clarks? (I love Clarks!)xx

  7. I’m with Trisha – just because you CAN sew, doesn’t mean you HAVE to. A RTW purchase feels more like a present to yourself if you do lots of dressmaking, and one well deserved in my book.

    • It did feel like a treat, just a bit of a guilty one, probably because I’d splashed out recently on the other stuff I’d mentioned in the post. I feel less guilty knowing that it will get lots of wear though 🙂

  8. Life’s too short to worry about these things: if it fits you well and you like wearing it then that’s great. Could you make it for £10? Maybe but then sometimes it’s nice to just grab something off the rails.

  9. I rarely buy rtw but don’t make a religion out of it. Some items aren’t cost effective to make, and the fabric or notions are too difficult to source.

  10. After doing the RTW fast for the whole of 2014 i still struggle to buy clothes, but do if I stumble across them like you did buying your frock. Hubby bought me a super snuggly soft lounge wear top from Next for my birthday – I’ve worn it to death and love it. I appreciate my RTW clothes so much more now and don’t waste money on unnecessary purchases – still waste money on shoes, fabric, patterns, hand bags and earnings though!!! Don’t beat yourself up, they’re only clothes! 😀

  11. You bought yourself a nice dress, you feel great in it and you’re not spending ridiculous amounts on ridiculous fast fashion – well done, I’d say. I think that fast in all areas of life are fine as long as one gets something out of it, but if they are just a hassle and induce a bad conscience we should use our energies for something more productive. Oh, and I love it that the Cashmere Rule has now gone official! 🙂

    • Loved the cashmere rule, as soon as you mentioned it, and you were instantly forgiven 😉 Glad I posted about this and feel much better, but have to make sure I don’t do it too regularly, well apart from the cashmere, of course…

      • Yes, now that we have the Cashmere rule (CR) we are free to indulge in that at least. Just as well cashmere isn’t cheap, so CR has its inbuilt limitations.

  12. I just buy nice things if I see them. If they fit, are in a good colour, and the price is low or fair I buy them. Why ever not? No need for any guilt or explanations. Nice dress, by the way.

    • Thank you! So glad I posted about this as was feeling very frustrated with myself, but now going to just enjoy wearing 🙂 However I’m also well aware that the more RTW stuff I buy, the less I wear my own makes so while I’ll enjoy this buy, I def. need to reign myself in again…

  13. I’m with you on the jeans and fine knits, they are the only things I really buy now. I rarely go into clothes shops but if I do the first thing I look at are the insides, if something passes this test then I’ll try it on, nine times out of ten I’ll notice fitting problems so it goes back on the rail. I was given a Monsoon gift card for Christmas and couldn’t find a single thing I wanted, I ended up getting a quilted jacket purely because it was warm. My standards since I started sewing again have become impossibly high!

    • I’m glad I got a bit frustrated with myself for buying this, shows I’m def. making more conscious buying decisions. But the consensus seems to be to just enjoy it, so I will…. But just try not to do it again too soon!

  14. I put so much pressure on myself to make things – usually around presents for other people -knitting and sewing garments to prove I really care, but when I’m exhausted and already overstretched I do the opposite and ban myself from making anything and the relief is immense! Knit a baby cardigan with matching socks and boottees and why not mitts as well? OR take the pressure off myself entirely and buy gift cards for Tescos and Next for the baby instead? Yes. Sometimes.

    I think – make what you want and enjoy it, and buy RTW when you want and enjoy it.

  15. I had the same feeling when I bought a striped t shirt dress from H&M for a few quid. My rationale was that if I’d found the fabric I could/would have made it. It completely matches my overall style so it was a good purchase. That’s a gorgeous dress, and for the price and how much you like it – totally worth it!

    • Thank you and glad to hear other people having the same dilemmas. I’d been so good at following my new rules, and then I went and broke them! Ah well, as long as it doesn’t happen too often… 🙂

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