Mending For All (Have My Adidas Had It?)
Rambles On Re-use, Re-cycle, Repair
I’ve always been interested in the history of clothes, the concept of ‘style’ and anthropology, but you wouldn’t know it to look at me. I just like reading about it and looking at other people.
When I was a kid, I collected books like ‘Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion’ and ‘Here’s Looking at You Miss Teen’. At such an impressionable age, these outdated books gave me a skewed idea of what it was to be a teenager in the modern world. While everyone else was joy riding, hitch hiking, and skate boarding, I was reading about how to clean your kid gloves with white bread, creating a limited palette wardrobe and what that will do for your world (make it perfect) and practising how to remove a cardigan at a soirée, in one graceful swooping move.
The books contrasted beautifully with how I live my life. I’d lie about eating crackers and cheese, reading about how lying upside down on an ironing board will give you rosy cheeks, and never actually doing the things they suggest. Once I wrote the alphabet in the air with my toes, to improve the shape of my ankles but it was pretty much done with equal amounts of curiosity and sarcasm. The books look hilarious at first glance, but you get sucked in to believing that this is a world of bite-size, achievable and rewarding tasks and should be taken seriously. I’ve never been able to make much comedy out of them to be frank, I love them too much. I’d have to give it all to another persona – maybe Mrs Coil (see Wife On Earth podcast if you haven’t met that character yet! She stars in series 3).
These days I watch style and fashion youtubers in a semi-horrified fascination, as they spend hours on regimes while I drink red wine instead, sitting atop a nest of un-mended mending.
Here’s a dilemma. Skanky shoes.
These shoes might be for the chop.
(apologies if you find them revolting🌺👀💃🏽)
1. When is something worn out?
2. When does a pair of shoes or a garment reach the end of it’s life?
3. Is it ok to look GRUNGE or wear something one size too big when you’re 20’s but not in your 40’s?
4. Says who?
5. With so much stuff in the world, can I warrant getting rid of shoes I’ve worn for six years or is it ok to look ‘neglected’ for work at (for instance) a Nathan-Barley-like office in Soho for a swanky acting job? Or is it disrespectful to look scruffy when you’re looking or doing work?
6. What do you think about ‘age appropriate’?
7. What do you think about getting a uniform and just wearing that, à la Zuckerberg / TS Eliot / Bill Gates, freeing up time for other stuff?
One of these pairs (green, £45 2015) has a hole in. I tell myself that means I can wear them when it’s not raining. The other (gold, 2017? Not quite sure) are a men’s size which means they are too big so I wear them with massive trousers so just the clown toes show) i.e I am really good at justifying keeping things.
Why on earth have Adidas started making men’s and women’s trainers? They do a men’s size 6 which is a women’s 6.3. What the?! Grr.
I am genuinely struggling with how much stuff we’re meant to own / how to pass it on in a sustainable way / if my time is well spent in endless mending and cleaning. So far the solution has been to keep nearly EVERYTHING. I still have clothes I wore when I was 12.
When we were students we had one thing at a time. One pair of shoes. When they wore out and were actively agonising to wear, we were forced to admit defeat and fork out for the next pair. We weren’t targeted with spending all the time though.
A Mending Book
And here is a mending book I love and (below) a 1920’s silk coat that I’ve had since I was 16 and now it’s shredded. Can I throw it away? Can I %&$£. No, I am hoping to either a) use the coat to remake a copy, as a pattern. (It’s a beautiful shape). and b) use the original collar, cuffs and button as they’re intact. I just cannot throw stuff away. The battle with the world’s Kondo, Minimalist, and Anti-Hoarder continues apace. What about you? What’s your criteria for keeping something? Have you got into mending? If so, do you think the trend for mending is universal this time? Not just women and wives? I’d love to know what you think. The philosophy and anthropology surrounding this is constantly fascinating to me. I might have to put my ridiculous book collection at the heart of series 4 of Wife On Earth. Maybe I’ll try what the books suggest… gulp.
How much stuff do we even need? I don’t think the holes in my trainers are mendable. So for now I’ll carry on wearing the gold ones with wide trousers to cover up the fact they’re too long, and the green fabric ones when it’s not raining. End of training triggered ramble. More soon! What shall we look at next? Maybe knitting jewels.