Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!


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Thrift-Shop Thursday: View from the Trenches

Previously on Thrift-Shop Thursday, I told you about my archaeologist daughter’s last-minute quest for the perfect dig-site wardrobe— and by perfect, I meant quick and thrifty, and she meant practical, yet chic. For a girl who just today wore a black pencil skirt, charcoal-grey cowl-neck top, cream fishnet hose, and taupe heels just to get her hair done, satisfying both of us threatened to be a very tall order. Today, Valerie is my very first guest blogger, with her own take on this thrift-shop-based experience. Welcome her to Changing Your Clothes!

“A garment in the closet is worth two in storage.” —Ancient proverb

What-ho from your guest correspondent. The above-mentioned trenches are also proverbial: I did indeed leap at the recent chance to help excavate an archaeological site within commuting distance of my home address, but we are digging in 1 x 1 meter squares! Although I insist I never actually wailed, “What do I wear?”, proper attire was an immediate concern. Because of the nature of this dig, I needed little more than the clothes on my back and the knowledge in my brain; but by the nature of my recent life, my entire closet was oriented to libraries, museums, and evening events —distinctly indoor clothes. If it were merely a question of finding acceptable work clothes, rugged and washable, it would have been a simple utilitarian jaunt to the nearest clothing-seller and this post could end with this paragraph.

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Thrift-Shop Thursday: Having A Field Day

Last weekend, my daughter Valerie, an archaeologist, found out she would have an opportunity to do some field work. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t), unless you have a Ph.D or two, it’s very rare to be invited to do on-site digging— one usually has to pay significantly for the privilege. So naturally, she jumped at the chance. And then rose the all-too-familiar desperate wail:

“What do I wear?”

Just to put this dilemma in perspective, an everyday look for Valerie would be a pencil skirt, sleek sweater or top, and heels. (Yes, unlike her mother, she’s very Hollywood-glam; not exactly vintage, certainly not retro, just modern glam.) Unfortunately, this style doesn’t (I assume) lend itself well to crouching down in a hole for hours at a time, sifting buckets of dirt, etc.; maybe this is glamorous work to an archaeologist, but even so, a pencil skirt somehow doesn’t seem… appropriate.

What would be appropriate? Valerie says definitely not jeans: too hot, restrictive, uncomfortable. But pants do seem indicated. I suggested something like khakis and/or cargo pants. This was a little like suggesting to a vegetarian that she try a lovely dish of calf’s liver, but eventually, she realized that if she had to wear pants (and casual pants at that), she could do worse. Khakis went on the list.

She also needed some casual tops, i.e. ones she wouldn’t mind getting covered with dirt and dust. These should be long-sleeved (for sun protection), natural fiber (for coolness), and above all, washable. Long-sleeved cotton t-shirts went on the list.

Now that Valerie’s shopping list was forming, she had to decide where to shop. Since she didn’t want to spend a lot on clothes for such a specialized purpose, I suggested thrift-shopping. (There are 2 really good shops quite close by.). Honestly, since I almost never shop for pants (at any kind of shop), I didn’t know what kind of selection we might find, but on the other hand, thrift shops generally have a wider assortment of brands to choose from. So I thought the odds of finding something were actually in our favor.

Other list items: Wide-brimmed sun hat, work gloves (leather), and comfortable shoes or boots that can get dirty.

Valerie’s going to write a guest post for Changing Your Clothes about this experience, but for now, I’ll just tell you that, in less than 3 hours, we went to 2 shops, she tried on over 30 pairs of pants (and about a dozen tops at the first shop), out of which she got 2 nice long-sleeved t-shirts, 2 pairs of khaki/cargo pants, and even a bonus pair of Ralph Lauren jeans in the most interesting shade of silvery-white! Total spent: $43.00!

Future post alert! It occurred to me during our shopping trip that planning for Valerie’s new field-work wardrobe was not unlike planning a travel wardrobe: both have specific needs, deadlines, climates, events, and budgets to consider. This is an idea I’m going to explore in another post (or three); the more I work on these concepts, the more I realize how helpful it is to start with a concrete strategy.

I’d love to show you pictures of Valerie’s new(ish) stuff, but she got a last-minute notification to go in this morning for 6 hours of  orientation and training for her field work. (It’s a good thing we didn’t wait until the last minute to shop!) She went off looking professional, appropriate, comfortable, and even —surprise— chic!

Thrift-Shop Thursday posts appear every 2 weeks here on CYC.


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Markham Caerus: Nothing to do with clothes, but still cool!

To all my clothes-minded friends, I can only apologize for the following message. (You proud parents will understand, I’m sure.) It’s a shameless promotion for my archaeologist daughter Valerie’s brand-new website, Markham Caerus, named for her research project into protecting works of art and antiquities from theft and looting. (Yes, she describes the origin of the name on the About Markham Caerus page— you’ll love it!)

Markham Caerus

Markham Caerus, my daughter’s project and new website! (Click the image to go straight there.)

Valerie has also just started a blog, A Year in Provenance (right here on WordPress!), which goes into lots of detail about the issues she intends to address, most of which I myself was completely unaware of. (Example: profits from the illegal sales of stolen art and artifacts go directly to finance other crimes.) So in case you’re wondering why this should matter, this fascinating blog will convince you! And thank you all in advance for checking it out, along with Valerie’s new website!

And now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming… er, posting…