Sea of Polyester

Since I began exploring personal style a few years ago, I think I’ve improved my shopping skills. Or at least I’ve learned to shop in a way that works well for me and my own style.

Here’s my shopping “philosophy”, in a nutshell:

First, decide what you want to buy. Be very specific.

Then shop for it.

This means that I don’t spend a lot of time browsing stores without a plan. I rarely thrift-shop or sift through clearance racks. If I know that a sale is upcoming, I might wait for it to make my purchase. But I usually already know what I’m going to buy.

Of course, there are exceptions. Usually, the exceptions apply to accessories like jewelry or scarves. With decorative items like those, it sometimes pays to go on a recreational shopping trip and just see what delightful designs you might stumble across.

But for most things, I like to have a plan. I like to know what I’m going to wear: to work, to exercise, to funerals, to weddings, etc.

Next month I have an event that I’m not prepared for. I need a casual dress, one that I can wear from morning to late evening and be photographed in. It’s going to be a long hot day, and some of the activities will be outdoors. I need something that won’t make me look completely wilted by the end of the day. Oh, and the dress can’t be sleeveless. I don’t do sundresses. And it must be affordable, since this isn’t a planned purchase that I’ve saved up for.

So I’m thinking, maybe a wrap dress in a cotton or rayon knit, or a simple fitted a-line dress or skirt in cotton or linen.

I went to the local mall, and it seemed like EVERY affordable dress was made of polyester. And overpriced, at that. I did find a couple of (expensive) cotton dresses, but the construction was so shoddy, I’d be embarrassed to wear them. I mean seriously embarrassed.

So I came home and got online (which is my preferred way to shop). I’d heard good things about, so I checked out that site. When I saw the hundreds of beautiful dress designs, I got excited. And then I started to check the fabric content.

You guessed it: Polyester.

I have to say, I’m really, really puzzled at the number of summer dresses made of 100% polyester. For me, wearing polyester in summer is like wearing Saran Wrap. No thank you.

On the bright side: I’ve been meaning to get back into sewing, and this might just be the thing that inspires me to break out the sewing machine.

7 responses to “Sea of Polyester

  1. When my father in law to be to be announced he was getting married, I seriously considered buying a new dress, but at over 200€ for something made out of acrylic, polyester or if I was really lucky rayon I opted to sew a dress myself. 30€ for fabric and notions for a custom fit fully lined dress made of cotton satteen.

  2. Well, I did find a couple of “maybe” rayon & cotton dresses at Modcloth. They have free return shipping, so I went ahead and ordered them. But yeah, considering the amount of time I’ve spent shopping for this dress– I think I could have sewn one up in less time!

  3. Hi Ms. M, first, thank you for your comment on my new blog, I appreciate the visit. Second, I love your new Leighton painting avatar. We visited The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde exhibit at the de Young a few days ago and that painting was my favorite. It makes me wonder: do you live in the San Francisco Bay Area? If so maybe we could meet for coffee sometime.
    It always amazes me how reading a post of yours is like reading my own thoughts. I feel the same way about polyester, take the same approach to shopping (including the accessories exception) and hate having to wear sleeveless tops and dresses to be cool in hot weather, but did so at my own wedding — last minute choice — because it was that hot.

  4. Hi Susan, thanks for all your comments!

    I found the painting when I was looking for a new avatar. I wanted to find a “classical” painted image that somewhat resembles me. (I don’t actually look anything like that gorgeous woman in the painting, but I do have similar coloring– and I have a thing for peacock feathers! Those are “my” colors (same with the Monet water-lilies painting in my header.)

    I live in the American south, no where near SF. 🙂 It would have been wonderful to see the painting in person!

    And I can relate to a lot of your posts, too. That’s what I love about the Internet– there are so many more people who think what I’m thinking! For the time being, I do prefer to remain anonymous. Years ago I had a non-anonymous blog, and for myself I definitely prefer anonymous blogging.

  5. I can certainly understand wanting to remain anonymous. Sometimes I wish I’d done so!

  6. Polyester, seriously?! 😦 Malls are bad like that.
    I share your shopping philosophy. Many would say it’s too limiting but the opposite is true – it’s liberating.
    Re: Aveda Hair Potion, it is great for adding body and texture, especially for fine hair.

  7. True; how can it be limiting when *I’m* the one deciding what I’ll buy?

    Luckily, I did manage to find a dress. It’s a rayon knit, light enough to breathe and simple enough that I can dress it up a bit with jewelry and some nice shoes.

    And yeah, my hair is fine, and tends to go flat even though it’s curly. Every bit of lift helps!