Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Slippery Slope to Frumpiness - Fallacy #3 - Farmer Jeans

3)  Farmer jeans.

Kansas is celebrating its 150th birthday this year.  We think that's very important as our history began with violence and bloodshed.  The issue of slavery was up for vote in Congress.  The votes were split evenly - the states were divided.  The country was at a loss as what direction the future of America would be.  Enter Kansas.  Kansas was separating from the Nebraska Territory to become the 34th state.  Kansas voters would essentially decide the direction of the nation on the day they were accepted into statehood.  Would they arrive in favor of slaveholding or in favor of freeing the slaves?

In the mean time, organizations from across the East coast were offering assistance to anyone who would move to the new Kansas territory before the day of the vote.  Each eligible voter gave them one more chance of tipping the national scale in their favor.  As you can imagine, this environment led to dishonesty, violence and bloodshed.  My house is about 3 miles from Bloody Bill Anderson's home place and the hideout his gang returned to each time they raided Free State communities to instill fear.  

I tell you all of that because this is my heritage.  I am a fifth generation Kansan.  I am still not sure which side of the slavery issue my ancestors came to support but they came to carve out a new life in a place filled with flat prairies with no trees.  The winds blew everyday and the Flint Hills prairie refused to be tilled.  The native American groups were desperately clinging to their government assigned lands as everyday the new settlers hacked out pieces off the edges to claim for themselves.  Life was about survival. 

I remember my grandma washing dishes in a teacup full of water, peeling potatoes so thinly that granddad said he could read the newspaper through the peelings.  She reused every piece of plastic or wire that came into her life.  She also was known for living several years in the back of horse trailer (remember this is the 1920's - so I don't mean an RV!).  She once received a bounty of ground beef and didn't have refrigeration.  She knew how to cook it down and store it in its own grease in coffee cans so it could be kept edible.  Her home and all of her belongings went through three home fires where she lost nearly everything.  This is my heritage.

I tell you all of this because I think it defines my thoughts about jeans.  I am a working class person.  My body isn't shaped very standardly female, nor was it shaped standardly male.  I need jeans in my daily life.  Farmers and ranchers get their jeans at the local  Farm and Ranch Supply where we buy dogfood and motor oil. 

Since my body was obviously the problem (not the designer, patterner or manufacturer) I never had jeans that fit.  And in the grand scheme of life, the fit of my jeans didn't have much impact on important issues.  We rural people get quite a chuckle out of the things city folk will pay money for - $1000 for a visit to the Flint Hills to watch the prairie chicken mating dances, $500,000 for a house, $100 for a pair of jeans!  You've got to be kidding!  $100 would fix the brakes on the four wheel drive!

I started buying my jeans at the same place the farmers and ranchers do - Bluestem Farm & Ranch Supply.  When I was feeling really good about myself I might buy Levi's at JC Penney.  I accumulated quite a stack of jeans and rotated them often.  Now I realize the rotating was because they were always pinching at the waist and hanging at the butt.  I would wear them a few hours, change into another pair, repeat.  I run the whole lot of them through the washer and dryer over and over hoping for magic.  And I was busy raising a family and paying off a mortgage.  For about twenty years.     

Then my daughter took a photo of me that caused me to look again.  Really, I rarely see the backside of myself so the photo caught me by surprise.  I blogged about it here:

Thanks to all of you the blogging community I decided I deserved jeans that fit.  I thrifted several new-to-me pairs that I love!  So far I have found Aura - Made by the Women at Wrangler to be a great fit for my inverted triangle (strawberry) shape.  And they are sold at Bluestem Farm & Ranch - I just had to take time to try them on!  I have also liked A.N.A, and rediscovered Zena Jeans.  My most recent great find was a pair of Cruel Girl jeans I thrifted for $1.29. 

So the $100 can still go towards fixing my brakes.  But, I will feel cute while I sit in the waiting area!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Turn-Around from Frumpiness - Fallacy #2 - No Button Down Blouses

This is item number two that I feel pulled me down the slippery slope to frumpiness over the past decade.  It's a fallacy, an untruth, that I accepted as the truth and used to further limit my wardrobe choices. 

2)  No button down blouses.  I love button down blouses.  They fit my personality.  But they never fit my shape.  So, it was too risky and too much of a pain to wonder if this or that blouse would pop at the bustline all day.  Since I don't want to draw more attention to the bustline than necessary, I eliminated button down blouses from my wardrobe possibilities.  It happened slowly over time and without much conscious thought.      

Once I accepted that the corporations who design womens' fashion do not care what shape or size I am, I realized that I am exactly the size I should be.  They have their own set of problems which are not my problems!   One of those problems is their inability to hire or train good pattern people - thus relying on mass fitting solutions that might have worked in the past.

I have worked to find button down blouses built for curvy bustlines.  They are hard to find, but its not impossible.  I like the stretch woven fabrics because I tend to fall between the standard sizes.  The stretch woven fabrics have decreased in cost and increased in quality over the past decade.  It is worth your time to search them out and start trying them on from different brands.  That little bit of extra stretch will sometimes make it work.  Also, some bras are better than others to make the fit work.  This eliminates the need to always size up, which as you probably know, results in a blouse that looks like it's borrowed from your husband's closet and is almost impossible to style with a jacket. 

I carefully topstitch the placket of some of my blouses in just that spot (about a two inch section).  If you leave the button placket alone both above and below this trouble area and stitch directly over the existing stitch lines, no one ever suspects that the blouse now has to be pulled on over your head!   

Next time:  Fallacy #3  Farmer Jeans