Do You Know About the Ready to Wear Fast?


I was taking a brief break from Thanksgiving Day cooking when I saw an invitation in my e-mail. Sarah Gunn of the phenomenally successful sewing blog Goodbye Valentino was inviting her readers to join her in a year-long “ready to wear fast” starting January 1. The more I read about this challenge, the more my enthusiasm mounted. I headed back to the kitchen practically whistling a happy tune.

As Sarah explained,

The Ready to Wear Fast is a vow to abstain from buying clothes for one year. You will give up buying clothes from January 1-December 31, 2018. You may sew anything, and you may fabric-shop as much as you like! The purpose is to Save Money and Improve Your Sewing Skills, but believe me, the rewards of the commitment will exceed your expectations.”

The only exceptions to the clothes-buying rule will be wedding gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses. No sweaters, no swimsuits, no mother of the bride dresses, not even scarves can be bought during the year-long fast.

But when I read the restrictions I noticed I thought, good! This will give me that nudge to try sewing knit tops and cardigans like I’ve intended to do for years. The same with scarves, which have been my only frequent ready-to-wear purchases for years: it’s time I learned to do those fine hand-rolled hems on scarves I make myself, cut to the dimensions I choose.

And pants, which have been my sewing holy grail for years: I’ve made do with occasional ready-to-wear purchases that have tided me over but have hardly been figure-flatterers.

Sweaters!  Even those sized “XS” are often too long in the torso and sleeves and too big around. The armholes are huge, restricting range of movement for sleeved versions or exposing too much flesh in sleeveless versions. Color choices are limited to what garment industry experts chose based on color forecasts made many months earlier.

Skirts, blouses, dresses–I can count on the fingers of one hand how many I’ve bought readymade in the last decade. Either fit or style is an issue, and, again, color and pattern choices are limited.

As Jack can attest, I’ll pop into a retail or consignment store to check out shoes and hats and sometimes specialty outerwear, but when I browse regular clothes racks I almost always leave the store muttering, “I’m glad I sew!”

So I think I am 90 percent of the way to a ready-to-wear fast anyway. If a fast means deprivation I already feel deprived, that’s for sure.

But if deprivation and restriction characterize a fast, why do I feel so upbeat about the approach of January 1? Because what I see is a yearlong sewing feast.

Oh sure, the sponsors of the RTW Fast are sure to dangle some enticements–fabrics, online classes, patterns, maybe even a sewing machine–before those of us who took the pledge. But what I think will have me singing Zippety Doo Dah in 2018 will be the abundance of encouragement and inspiration we participants will be sharing on our private Facebook page to realize our wardrobe dreams.

I know it sounds crazy: I sew, but do I have a closet full of seasonal custom clothing capsules to create dozens of outfits? No! As a matter of fact, since I joined Imogen Lamport’s 7 Steps to Style program four months ago I have drastically thinned out my wardrobe–including clothes I’ve sewn. Everything–my patterns, fabrics, wardrobe, style, my coloring, my figure type, and what I want to dress for–has been undergoing a reexamination.

When I read about the RTW Fast it struck me that it could give me just the right combination of structure, incentives, flexibility, and accountability to get me out of analysis paralysis into purposeful action. I am going to give the RTW Fast my best shot to turn 2018 into a year I can look back on with a feeling of accomplishment. That doesn’t sound like deprivation to me.

Signing up for the 2108 Goodbye Valentino Ready to Wear Fast ends Dec. 31, 2017. Click on the link for registration details. I hope you can join us!

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5 thoughts on “Do You Know About the Ready to Wear Fast?

  1. Been on a boycott of ready made clothes since 2008. Only thing I buy are underwear, panties and bras, and shoes. Mostly because ready to wear comes mostly in Black, Navy, Red and white. I hate those colors. But then, of course, fabric stores aren’t much better and sell lousy fabric. Cannot make shoes, unfortunately. But want to get rid of all my shoes and stick to Birkenstocks.

  2. Hi Paula, I’ve been on the verge of signing in with the “fast” since I first learned of it! Other than 4 dresses for 4 weddings , one jacket and several curtains I’ve been on a starvation sewing diet! Yes, I definitely think I’m in! On another note, I’ve had some connectivity problems with both my wifi and computer in the past month or so and have been neglect with keeping up with your postings. Hopefully things have straightened out now and I’m back on line. I have noticed that many sewists post on Instagram. I’m thinking that’s where most of the action for the fast will take place. It will be quite a year!

    • Marguerite, I hope you do join in. I have been reading the comments of other participants on Goodbye Valentino and am eager to “meet” them through this challenge–I think we will be inspiring and good-naturedly nagging each other. I’m only beginning to get acquainted with Instagram but I’m more and more intrigued by it. Who knows, I may give it a try myself.

  3. Hi Paula, I read this post with interest because independently of you, or the Goodbye Valentino blog., I had decided to do exactly this. I’m taking it a step further and not even going to purchase fabric or knitting wool as I already have so much (in colours suitable for my colouring, contrast level etc). I have my son’s wedding and a ball to attend in 2018 and I already have fabric for both dresses sorted. I recently did a sewing course on how to fit trousers properly and made a pair of jeans that are a terrific fit and shape on me, so I have a couple more pairs planned. The only thing I have done is allowed myself a small budget for shoes – although goodness knows I already have more than enough of those – and bras and undies. In short, I am right on board with this concept 🙂

    • Wow, Monica, I am so impressed! That’s fantastic! You’re going a notch further than the RTW Fast is, with your fabric and knitting wool fast, too. I hope you will chart your progress and let us know how it goes. It is so inspiring to see someone grapple with the various fitting, fashion, and construction challenges and succeed. Good luck, and write back!

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