I have long recognized that when shopping, I really only notice what I already have at least one of. I have several copies of the same dress in multiple colors. I have half a dozen different grey sweaters (pullover, round neck; pullover, v-neck; dark merino cardigan; pale grey cashmere cardigan; asymmetrical zip merino cardigan; long open cardigan, Oxford grey). I likewise have cashmere cardigans in several colors; jeans in multiple colors (more likely to have decent pockets than “dress” trousers); and, of course, at least half a dozen black skirts in different fabrics, lengths, and degrees of formality.

Possibly my favorite and most-worn skirt ever is among those: washable black silk crepe, mid-calf length, flowing, pocketed. I bought it when I was in graduate school, from a small shop in Hill Town, on sale at a price that was still high for me, then, but price per wear must have amortized to something outrageously low over the years. If it has faded to charcoal, it’s no less a workhorse for being somewhat paler than it once was: see above for my love of grey sweaters. It dresses up, it dresses down, it has accompanied me on multiple trips to London town (and other cities). And after the last trip, it had somehow acquired stains that I have not succeeded in removing. I’m going to let a dry cleaner have at it, but I am not optimistic. I do not know where I will ever find a replacement for this one. Despite my tendency to buy multiples or different versions of the same garment, I’ve never found another skirt as versatile and wearable as this one.

I had hoped to wear it to a formal-ish occasion coming up, but I’m going to have to find something else, possibly out of a box that’s already packed.

I’d welcome recommendations for a replacement. Also stories of your favorite clothing pieces or types.


4 thoughts on “Favorites do wear out

  1. Can you find a seamstress and have them copy it for you? Might be more expensive than a shop bought replacement, but you get the exact fabric you want AND save the hassle of traipsing around loads of shops. And once they have the pattern to your liking, you could have more made in different colours!

    I wish stuff stayed the same in shops. I would happily buy the same wardrobe and shoes, with a few colour and pattern variants, for the rest of my life… but instead I have to kepp working out if a new cut or design actually fits and works for me, and it’s a waste of brain power and patience (I don’t have much of either most days)!

    1. That is a great idea. I think the hardest thing would be finding the fabric. I would love to have that skirt in other colors, because it’s comfortable, flattering, and practical (for the life I mostly lead . . . not for digging in the garden, of course). So I will see what I can do along these lines. As much wear as I’ve had from the original, it would be worth laying out some cash to get another one or two of this skirt. Thanks for the thought!

  2. I was thinking along the same lines as JaneB — this is definitely a case for hiring a seamstress, because a good one should be able to duplicate the skirt, and even if it costs more than readymade, it’s a good investment, because you *know* you’re going to wear the result regularly. And yes, if you’re pleased with the result, you should be able to get additional copies, and those should cost a bit less because the initial labor will be done.

    There are lots of places to buy fabric on the internet, but a good seamstress should also have a good sense of the best places to source particular fabrics. Silk crepe is a pretty basic fabric; the tricks, I suspect, will be making sure it’s washable, and that it’s the right weight (duplicating fabric weight is extremely important, since the same style won’t hang the same way in a different-weight fabric).

  3. I had a pair of shoes I bought at the end of my time in London working on my dissertation. They were very expensive for my grad school budget, but I was absolutely in love with them. I had passed them in a shop window for weeks walking to archives, and on the day before I came home, I bought them. Well, I wore those shoes for nearly 20 years! I had heels and soles repaired etc., but they held up beautifully and were so comfortable yet elegant and professional. I was SO sad when they finally could no longer be repaired. I’ve found close substitutes, but never anything quite as good.

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