Repeat Outfits

Let’s talk about something ordinary, unremarkable, and totally 100% human: wearing the same clothes over and over again.

In this day and age, those of us active on social media feel constant pressure to be presenting ourselves to new eyes and fresh “audience” members across multiple platforms. We’re always supposed to have something new to say, a hot take on a current issue, or a shiny new make to show off.

The microcosm of sewing Instagram (where I tend to spend the most time) rewards sewists who make new things every week, or even every day, and are willing to take the time to make a catchy reel to show it off. The human eye is drawn to what it’s drawn to; faces, well-composed photos, sped-up process videos set to catchy music, things that are shiny and fresh and NEW!

I’m here to tell you that you only need to play that game if you want to.

I recently reached 2,700 followers on Instagram, which felt really good and affirming, considering I had about 500 followers when I started my business back in late 2020. That’s over 2,200 new people who have taken an interest in my work!

And compared to other sewing influencers, I feel like I posted relatively few “new” pieces. If you scroll back through my feed, you’ll notice that I also posted a lot of the same garments multiple times.


For example, this yellow rayon jersey Arm Candy Tee, which I wear at least weekly (and don’t even always get around to taking a photo of):

Nine photos of Ruby wearing a yellow tee shirt with a petal sleeve detail in different settings and as part of different outfits.

 

Another well-worn piece is this Milo Cardigan (from Seamwork, max 54” bust), on which I used some cool buttons inherited from my aunt’s stash:

A photo collage of nine photos of Ruby wearing a loose fitting cardigan in skinny blue and mauve horizontal stripes, as a part of different outfits.

 

I also wear my two George & Ginger 40K Sway tops (max 55.5” bust) quite frequently:

A photo collage of Ruby wearing two different green knit blouses with an asymmetrical neckline in different settings and outfit contexts.

 

Now, I want to be transparent and say that I’ve also put a lot of time and work into pieces that I don’t wear as often. 

For example, these Muna & Broad Noice Jeans (max 74” hip) that look awesome but are hella stiff and kind of uncomfortable to sit down in... 

Three images of Ruby modeling a pair of high-waisted jeans made from a stiff floral tapestry fabric.

 

...Or these hand-painted striped “shorteralls” made from the Jalie Overalls pattern (max 66.5” hip), which sit just a bit too low in the crotch and often result in uncomfortable “chub rub” of my inner thighs.

Ruby poses in her sewing studio wearing a pair of brown shorteralls with thick black vertical stripes that she hand-painted onto the fabric.

 

An unpleasant truth of sewing, and something I try hard to communicate to all of the sewing students I’ve worked with over the years, is that not every piece is going to be one hundred percent perfect, even if you put ton of time, thought, and care into it. Similarly to shopping for ready-to-wear, you’re going to end up with some pieces that just get better with wear, and other pieces that you wear a few times but don’t reach for as often. 

Sewing your own clothes is unfortunately not a panacea for an imperfect wardrobe. It does, however, give you a certain relationship to your clothes.

If and when I ever part from those me-mades that aren’t my Most Favorite, I’ll have a keen understanding of the value of the labor that went into those pieces, and I’m much less likely to hastily stick them in a donation bin.

I’ll continue to wear my Most Loved pieces over and over again, and continue to post them to my Instagram grid even if everyone has seen those outfits before!

I really believe that wearing the same pieces multiple times, and getting lots of wear out of the things we make, is a sign that we are doing something right; that we are succeeding in dressing ourselves in an aligned way where it feels like our outer appearance matches our inner sense of self. 

So aspire to make clothes you love, and don’t be embarrassed when the fabric starts to pill, or the elastic stretches out, or a seam pops from so much wear. Those are signs that you succeeded in making something utterly lovely and worthy of frequent wearings! And that, I think, is what the goal of sewing your own clothes ought to be all about.

2 comments

  • This is so true! Instagram is such a strange beast – I’ve largely only ever posted my makes for competitions or as a favor to a friend or some external force that bumps me over the hurdle of posting (feeling silly and self conscious). I’ve not really ever posted my most favorite things I’ve made and worn everyday – basic tshirts, dungarees, a crop top.

    But it is so nice to see people talking about slowing down their process and thinking about what to make, what works and repeating makes.

    M
  • This is so true, with all the cost and effort to sew ours cloths, we need to wear and enjoy them a lot. I’m a keeper for long term relation with my cloths.
    Your yellow Arm Candy tee sweet you so well, you have no reason not to wear it all the time!

    Nadia Letourneau

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