Bespoke Me

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Hello there and welcome to the soup.  It is so humid here right now, my hair is turning into an afro all of its own accord.  We’re up to blog #96 today, and something kinda exciting happened just today.

Our website, this a-here-one that you are reading the blog page of right now, has won an Award!  We’ve won Most Unusual Membership Site from WishList, the software that drives our membership engine.

I’m not sure what this win means yet but it’s a nice little buzz of recognition, particularly since we’ve had a technically challenging week.

We had a problem with PayPal late last week, and it has taken us nearly a week to get it sorted out.  I wish I’d lost 10 pounds instead of portions of my sanity whilst we were dealing with the issue, but there it is.

We’re back up and running, which are five simple words that don’t do anything to evoke the wrangling and gnashing and machinations of the past week.  But since something exciting has happened and I don’t wish to dwell on the negative, I’ll leave it there.  Feedback about PayPal may not be best done in this forum, yeah?

So  now we are Most Unusual!  I wonder if that’s like “most likely to succeed” in high school?

Getting a little buzz of recognition is very nice.  I have felt at times that I am writing, and occasionally working, into a void.  I’m not sure who’s out there, reading or listening or paying attention to what I’m doing.  So to have someone say “hey, we noticed” is encouraging.  The company I had in my category was also interesting – I’ll let you discover that for yourself but I will just mention one other site in my group was the Giant Schnauzer Club of America.  Who knew there were giant Schnauzers?

So what are we talking about today?  I thought I’d mention something I haven’t talked about this entire year, and that is bepoke tailoring.

Bespoke is an old word that came from the term “spoken for”.  Not only were young women and property portfolios spoken for in times gone by, but clothing and all its accessories were spoken for, too.  Felt hats, leather shoes, wool suits — all could be tailour made to your unique specifications.  When such things are ordered, you spoke for them.  I’m not sure what you said when you spoke for them… perhaps some version of “Hey, you there, with the scissors!  Cut straight, will ya?”  Whatever was said, speaking for them was, and is, probably a good thing, because these items can’t speak for themselves.  Although they will speak on our behalf, as we’ve talked about here before.

Bespoke items are usually made by craftsmen and women of great skill and artistry.  Many things are invested into a bespoke item – time, creative energy, centuries old methods, detail and attention.  And of course, you pay for the pleasure and priviledge of this.

I had quite a thing for bespoke tailoring there for a while.  My dressmaker, Janine, planned her overseas holidays based on me, I’m sure of it.  I reckon her entire 2008 African trip was funded by me.  Mostly I had dress shirts made for me, usually out of silk.  Silk is a challenging fabric to work with and you usually need someone with great skill and patience to create a garment for you made from pure silk.  I always enjoyed silk because it was a natural fibre but didn’t crease like linen and it looked classier than cotton.

I wore most of the silk shirts Janine made me for work.  As a corporate facilitator and coach, I was at “the front of the room” for much of my working day and so was a highly visible person.

In my role as a facilitator (which I’m doing a good job of impersonating, left… that was taken at an International Facilitator’s Conference in Malaysia, August 2008), I wanted to look professional and approachable, competent and friendly.

I wanted to look and feel attractive without drawing too much focus — and silk seemed to be a good fabric to use for that.

Janine once commented on how many silk shirts I had — using the number that she had made for me as her measure (she has made 12 silk shirts for me over a period of about 3 years).  If only she knew how many store-bought ones I had hanging in my wardrobe!

That one comment from Janine affected me – it gave me some context for how my shirt collection was viewed from an outsiders perspective.  And it was viewed as “plentiful”.  More than enough for one woman.  Perhaps even too much.  So, why was I buying more fabric, and having more shirts made?  And why was I buying more ready-made shirts to add to this collection as well?

These questions stayed in the back of my mind for nearly a year.  The last time I had anything made by Janine was in January 2009, nearly 11 months before I started this challenge.  She’s probably wondering where the blazes I am.  And holidaying domestically.

A huge part of the challenge over the last year has been for me to make better use of what I already have.  I have so much, and I wanted to truly wear it all.  I have rarely had the need to let something go from my wardrobe because I’ve worn it out, something I talked about way back at blog #6.

I am still getting great wear out of those silk shirts (two of them made an appearance on US television in October, which you can check out on our Media page).  But I’m not having any new ones made.  I’m just not sure what I’m going to do with my collection of beautiful silk fabrics, started before the challenge began last December.  Cushions, anyone?

I’ll be back in a few days with our next installment in our countdown toward 100 blog postings by the end of the year.  I hope you stay with us ’til the end.  Right?

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