Monday, 28 May 2018


I spend quite a bit of time on eBay in order to snag beautiful clothes at affordable prices — er, cheap; very cheap —  like this lovely (soft, heavy linen) skirt from East I got for 99p. 

Apart from anything else the typos, misspellings and autocorrect phenomena on eBay are a source of mirth.

"Warn once," a woman proclaims ominously of her skirt. And "Pulled threadworm" says another. What? Oh, I see. Drawn threadwork.

A source of frustration recurring with tedious frequency is the unwillingness of many vendors to add the measurements of the garments they are selling. "Ankle length on me." Really? So what? "My friend is a size 16 and it fits her perfectly." Sigh.

I like natural fabrics (I do not warm to the word "faux") — linen, cotton and cashmere for the most part; and my socks are alpaca and my winter tights are merino. I look out for Anokhi, Toast, Nila Rubia, East (who sadly stopped trading last year), or handmade things in soft linen and Indian cotton.

I used to have mostly greys and blues, all quiet colours, but recently I coloured my life in, to therapise my soul when something bad happened, so now my things are rather rainbowesque.

I wear very little jewellery, only earrings, and most of those are pearls.

Though I do have these beauties made by the cunning hands of our in-house craftswomen, God bless them.

And these made of coral and carnelian.

When I sold some work a little while ago, I achieved a long cherished ambition and bought silk underwear from Patra, and shirts from Chandni Chowk. I've bought their things on eBay before, but I wanted to buy something new, because they are handmade in India using traditional hand-block techniques and vegetable dyes, and fairly traded. Expensive, then (and very, very beautiful). Glorious.

But I'm getting sidetracked, because what I wanted to say to you is — why do people want their clothes to be crisp?

I keep seeing these garments, mostly blouses and nightdresses, advertised as "crisp cotton". As if that were a virtue. What? Crisp? Who the heck wants their blouse or nightie to feel crisp?

It might be a feature of my autistic tendencies, but I absolutely have to wear the softest, lightest, most pliable attire on God's earth. First thing I do when I buy a new top is take the label out (with extreme care), otherwise I can feel it and that drives me wild.

Recently I saw a Flax shirt for sale on eBay — very low price (£4.00) because the woman selling it said she had worn and washed it so often it had gone all floppy. I bought it immediately. She was quite right, and hallelujah. 

Imagine apologising because a shirt is no longer crisp! It does indeed take years to get them as lovely as this one is.

In case you were wondering, it's the colour in the photo of me wearing it, not the close-up.

But what about you? Do you go searching for crisp clothes? Aren't they uncomfortable? Or are you basically searching for fabric marshmallow, like me?


Sandra Ann said...

Yes comfort rules! I cannot abide anything scratchy, cumbersome and tight fitting. I wear flats all the time and have one pair of slight heels for weddings 😀 I love your description marshmallow fabric, just perfectly sweet ❤️

greta said...

i'm right there with you. the softer the cloth the better i feel. my clothes are mostly grey, cream and brown and almost all of them came from goodwill or other thrift stores. i haven't been brave enough to try ordering on e-bay for the very reason that you mentioned (no accurate sizing.) fortunately we are well supplied with busy thrift stores in our area so it's easy to find things and try them on. away with crisp!

Fiona said...

Pen, I am just the same with labels! I can't bear them in any garments at all and always remove them immediately after deciding to keep clothes. And I so agree re: the importance of comfortable clothes in general. I started wearing dresses over leggings last winter, and the difference between leggings and jeans in comfort terms has been a revelation to me. Hope your colour therapy is continuing to do your soul lots of good. And that's a lovely photo of you! xxx

Ganeida said...

Nothing that itches, scratches, pokes or prods. Comfort above all else. I don't care if I look like the local bag lady. I have never understood fashion. All my labels have to come off anyway so what's the point? I've found I can wear some of the super soft, floppy synthetics without breaking out in hives but generally keep soft cotton next to sensitive skin areas.

Patrick said...

Ah, you've just made me realise the reason why I don't ever choose to wear the new shirts in my wardrobe that have been sitting there since last summer having been only warn once or twice! They are stiff and horrible! I think I'll sell them on eBay and replace them with worn ones. Thank you Pen, wise as usual.

Anonymous said...

Crisp, yikes! I've found as I've aged (and acquired a bulkier body) that I've a horror of clothes I can't move in. They need to stretch, or I feel trapped. I love linen, but I do get nervous of buying linen clothing unless they're very baggy for that very reason. I've bought a few baggy linen dresses from Zulily, which is nice, as it is often very hot and humid in MN in the summer. They are often described as being European in origin, so maybe a source closer to home would be better for you! I am intrigued by the new "performance jeans" that are designed for movement, (saving up, LL Bean has some). Also Duluth Trading has a focus on clothes you can work outdoors in, with gussets and pleats other movement friendly details. They have a fabric called "Armachillo" that has a cooling feel to it, and other performance fabrics. I've been wearing black clothes especially tops for many years (I think I feel more solid/grounded in it I need to have my whits about me in the field I work in) and will go color on a skirt or pants. I was teased at work recently for wearing gray instead, and I joked back that it's "the summer pastel version of black!" DMW

kat said...

ohhh fabric marshmallow every time - and yes, get rid of those horrid scratchy labels.

BLD in MT said...

Hmmmm....yes, I'd think "broken in" would be a good thing, much more than crisp. At least in the styles of clothing I wear. Hmmm, unusual indeed. Vagueries like "my friend is a size 16" are no help in the garment world where there is entirely too much variability brand to brand and body to body.

I bought my first real pearls when I was in Mexico earlier this year with my mom and grandmother. They're probably the only "nice" jewelry I own.

Julie B. said...

My clothes have to be soft and loose. And I hate tags too. I think your photo is absolutely lovely.


Pen Wilcock said...

Having exhumed all your comments from their untimely grave in the Hidden Section of "Design", I am so enjoying reading right through them.
All these beautiful people in their soft, floppy, comfy clothes in grey, brown and black, with flat heels and the irksome labels cut out. How peaceful. How soothing, How extremely nice. Come on in. Have a cup of tea. Good to see you.

Anonymous said...

Just love this...yes, yes, yes indeed
Deb x

Anonymous said...

Now there's a subject that I ponder on a lot - clothes.
Not because I'm a clothes-aholic, it's just that I lack a sense of personal style. I admire women who dress in beautiful classic clothes, women who wear boho clothing with panache, women who wear vintage-style outfits (my favourite -in particular 1940s dresses). Women who dress gracefully. They all look lovely.
So why can't I get it right? ;)
Probably because I'm a plus size and nothing looks good/right on me. I'd like to find a style that suits me and very importantly (to me), a style that my husband appreciates.
I'm 59 and still hoping that one day I'll 'get it'! :)

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah yes — carrying extra weight when all the style icons are so slender! Sigh!

I wonder if you remember the original 1950s St Trinians movies? Margaret Rutherford was in them playing a headmistress. She'd be dressed in neat tweed skirts and jackets, with a delicate lawn blouse that had a little Peter Pan collar, usually with a dainty brooch at the neck. She was a heavy woman and not conventionally beautiful, but she looked just lovely. I carry her in my mind as my personal style icon. Her and Miss Marple. Actually I think my dress sense lodged somewhere between 1920 and 1945 and got stuck there!