Clothes Line, the Original

Clothes-Line_Copyright_M-J_de_Mesterton_2007

Washing and Drying Your Shirts

A well-made shirt can cost $500.00 or more. That is an investment to protect. Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Ideally, one would hang shirts on a clothesline, upside down, with clothespins. This keeps pinch-marks off the important areas of your shirts. The sun will dry them in no time. Alternatively, one could hang them indoors, perhaps out-of-sight behind the the shower curtain, on hangers. A sturdy spring-rod, placed inside the shower area for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry will not interfere with your existing shower-rod. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt, which will die an angry death before its time. My husband and I have shirts from France and England that are twenty years old, and in perfect condition.

An electric, energy-consuming dryer is an enemy to high-quality clothing. In fact, dryers shrink clothes and wear them out quickly; lint is composed of fibers that a machine robs from your clothes. You’d be surprised at how swiftly shirts dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, they’re easy to iron. In cases of stubborn collar and cuff soil, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach, as long as they are rinsed well, and then hung to dry. (Bleach alternative may be a better choice, if you can get it to work on stubborn stains.) The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and your shirts by hand-washing and sun-drying them.

Giving your precious shirts to a dry-cleaner or other laundry service is wasteful. They crush buttons and machine-dry the poor things. Do clothes hanging on a line outdoors conjure up bad images for you? Too bad, because it is one of life’s simple luxuries to be able to dry a beautiful, well-made shirt in the sun–some of the best people do it. Believe me, it’s not remotely infradig to care for your own shirts. After all, who cares for them more than you do?


~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 2008

Preserving Your Clothing

Clothes dryers are energy-wasters, and will ruin your clothes as well, through fiber-loss and shrinkage. Hand-washing and line-drying your shirts will extend their lives. I use Zote soap and a microfiber cloth to rub dirt out of cuffs and collars. Underarms need special attention, too. The reason for using a microfibre cloth instead of a brush is that it is more gentle on the fabric, but is strong enough to grab what I like to call “café crud” from cuffs. You don’t need a fancy contraption for clothes-drying; a five-dollar investment in a line from Walmart, and a packet of wooden clothespins by Diamond brand for three dollars will do.

When travelling, pack a small piece of Zote soap for hand-washing dainties and shirts in your quarters. The shower is a nice place to hang them; they will likely dry overnight, and probably not need ironing.  You might pack a couple of clothes-pins as well.

The sun and Zote soap both act as  fabric-brighteners, and your clothes will have a clean, fresh scent if treated to a sun-bath.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009

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The Clothes Line

M-J on Classic, Elegant Style

Dear Readers,

A lot of money has been wasted by ladies and gentlemen who believe that a designer label on a piece of clothing or an accessory is necessary for a person to be elegant. Seventy percent of what one sees on the runways is unwearable by normal people anyway, and makes a mockery of the human form. Let’s face it, for every designer piece you have, there are legions of people out there wearing the same item, seriously decreasing the cachet of owning the thing in the first place. There are plenty of ways to dress elegantly without the joke being on you. Elegant dressing doesn’t involve plastering your corpus with the latest trendy rage (or rag). True style means choosing classic pieces that don’t come emblazoned with someone’s imprimatur or logo. It means finding skirts, jackets, trousers and blouses that are beautiful, well-constructed and will stand the test of time. Be mysterious, instead of an open book; an instantly recognizable fashion designer piece will label you as a striver. Better to seek out well-made garments by doing research either on the internet or shopping around your town, and though this next suggestion requires a bit more effort, having something made for you by a tailor or seamstress from a pattern and fabric of your own choice will pretty much guarantee that no one else wears the same thing. Sheep follow trends: setting your own style will mark you as an individualist with good taste–and save you from sartorial waste. ~~Copyright M- J de Mesterton, October 29th, 2007

How to Appear Taller

Besides wearing higher heels (there are some comfortable versions such as wedgies and chunky-heeled boots and shoes), there are a couple of other things you can do to affect a taller look. Avoid long skirts, favoring ones which end at the knee. Keep your color-scheme unified. If you’re wearing a dark skirt, wear dark-tinted stockings. Don’t let bare skin show between your skirt, pants and other components. It will break up the continuity of your ensemble. A long line of the same tones, head-to-toe, creates a  taller image. I’m sorry to have to say this again, but avoid trousers, pants and skirts that do not come up to your natural waist. Clothing manufacturers are not cooperating. There is a scheme afoot that saves them money, by giving you less fabric. In fact, it is difficult to find anything with a true waist anymore. You know, that area in the middle. I bought a pair of long-johns (also known as thermal underwear) by Fruit of the Loom. The photo on the package showed the garment hugging the waist, as is proper to prevent slipping down. Upon opening the package, I saw that they only came up to the hips. Bad cut, stupid design. I won’t accept it. A hip-hugging garment with no waist will make you look short-legged, and is bound to fall down. Get with it, clothing designers! Stop making women and men look like truncated freaks. We need choice.

Elegant Style for Cooler Weather, October 2007

Today is the First of October. Those of us who love the luxury of fine woollens and tweeds are in our glory this season, when the temperatures allow us to dress in our favorite clothes. It’s a perfect time for me to introduce our friends at Bookster, whose custom-made, traditional tweed jackets, coats and suits are first-rate. They are the genuine articles, made right in the English countryside. In fact, when we received our first Scottish tweed jacket made by Bookster U.K., it smelled like heather. A modest investment in a piece or two from them would greatly enhance your fall and winter wardrobe. I’ve written about paring-down one’s closet to include only the finest things. And you know that I find it tragically wasteful to wear a completely different outfit each day. With a finely crafted jacket or blazer, some silk blouses, a couple of skirts and an assortment of accessories, a woman can create such a variety of looks that no one will notice that certain components are being re-incorporated. Fewer and better items of clothing in our cupboards lead to ease in dressing with elegant simplicity. The people at Bookster are a delight to work with, and their web-site has helpful links to the web’s premier clothing discussion forum, and to a top-shelf hat stockist to complete your look.

For vintage tweed clothing, shoes, boots, bags and accessories from Great Britain, please visit Bookster’s on-line shop, which offers interesting, high quality items at attractive prices.

Copyright  M-J de Mesterton October, 2007

Where Is the Waist? Editorial by M-J

Originally Posted at Elegant Survival by M-J de Mesterton on September 14, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Where is the waist? That’s what I wonder every time I look at photos of the newest “fashions.” What is new about the same old tragic clothing-concepts bobbing up again, masquerading as innovative? For the past ten years, pants and skirts have consistently been manufactured without even coming close to the waist, yet they are touted as the “latest.” To paraphrase General Honoré of Louisiana, someone’s “stuck on stupid.” I thought last spring that the tide of bad clothes was turning, but having perused some catalogues this month, it is apparent that clothing designers  are still denying their customers ample fabric to cover their “plumber’s cracks.” Snide cracks about “mom jeans” and thoroughly ignorant comments calling anything that indeed does come just up to the natural waist “high-waisted” are still being heard  and read by those of us who actually remember where the waist is located on the human corpus: the place for belts, sashes, snaps and buttons is an inch or two above the navel, depending upon one’s height. The designer of the human body gave us the waist as an elegant way of keeping our pants, skirts  and trousers from falling down; also to enhance our corporeal proportions. The true waist never comes below the navel, and it certainly cannot be found two inches above one’s crotch. Garments are falling down from where they rest on the hips, and the fashion world has insisted on staying down in the gutter after what seems to be a devastating, permanent fall from elegant, figure-enhancing style. Fashion-victims are afraid now to go against the hideous dictum that you must wear your clothes no higher than the hip. This is a big mistake, because if one follows the lines of his or her body, they will see that clothes descending from the waist lengthen the legs, while clothes that only come up to the hips turn even the slimmest among us into pot-bellied, short and sloppy -looking people who would have been laughed-at throughout the previous decades and centuries. Wearing six-inch heels to compensate for the bad deeds done to your figure by stingy clothing manufacturers and designers does nothing but make one look even sillier. Extra-high heels will damage both your feet and back, and will not give back the height robbed from you by idiotic torso-stretching trousers and skirts. For men, extra-long trousers do not visually lengthen your legs; rather, they make you look dumpy. The fail-safe, time-tested method of developing real glamour and style is to dress in natural, luxurious cloths and fabrics from the waist-down; wear two-to-three inch heels if you are a woman, and keep your trousers from heaping into a puddle on top of your shoes if you are a man. And don’t forget the stockings and socks. No one will notice that you are not blindly and self-destructively following bad fashion. But, they will wonder why on earth you look so good, while their trousers are slipping into the mire together with all sense of style. © Copyright M-J de Mesterton; September 14th, 2010

Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2010

Now, there is the waist, our anchoring feature of elegant style. Pants, trousers and skirts constructed without it are a waste!

© Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2010

Waist-to-Height Ratio and Your Health: an easy-to-use page that tells you how to find your waist, recommends its ideal measurement for your height, gender and age, calculates your body-mass index and displays one’s optimum daily caloric-intake.

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Caring for Your Clothing: Ironing a Man’s Shirt;

Washing and Drying Laundry

Me and My Shirt in October, 2007: One of Us is Twenty-Something….

Photo Copyright Elegant Survival, 2007

My husband and I have shirts that are twenty years old and in wonderful shape. Most of them are custom-made; all of them are from either Paris or London. We have protected our initial investment on each one by caring for it properly. What follows is some material I wrote last year on the subject.~~Copyright M-J, August, 2007

Ironing a Man’s Shirt

My Swedish grandmother taught me how to iron men’s shirts. Like Scandinavians of all social strata, she adored being at the ironing board. I don’t know how other people do it, but here is our system: flattening and folding the yoke (found under the collar at the back of shirt) at its bottom seam, iron it. You can iron-out the resultant crease later, when ironing the whole of the back.Iron the underside of the collar, then its topside, then iron a crease at the seam where it meets the shirt.Iron the insides and outsides of the cuffs, before doing the two sleeves. Then you are ready to execute the easy parts: the two front sides and the back. Hint: keep a spray bottle of water nearby to mist the shirt’s stubborn wrinkles, even if you have a steam iron. If you use steam, empty the iron, refill it, and test-run for rusty water which can be difficult to remove once it is on the shirt. Do not use the highest temperature setting: crispy brown edges are for tortes, not chemises!Besides the great feeling of accomplishment one gets finishing each shirt, it saves money which one may have spent having a cleaning outfit doing the work. There is dignity in ironing; don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

UPDATE, October 26th, 2008: My current favorite iron is First Impressions by Black & Decker. It costs about 27 dollars at Target stores. I have owned irons from Germany that cost three times as much, and each one ruined my silk clothes by dripping on them. This one is totally reliable, and has a built-in cord reel.~~ Copyright M-J de Mesterton

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sun-Dried Shirts, a Natural Luxury

Washing and Drying Your Shirts

A well-made shirt can cost $500.00 or more. That is an investment to protect. Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Ideally, one would hang shirts on a clothesline, upside down, with clothespins. This keeps pinch-marks off the important areas of your shirts. The sun will dry them in no time. Alternatively, one could hang them indoors, perhaps out-of-sight behind the the shower curtain, on hangers. A sturdy spring-rod, placed inside the shower area for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry will not interfere with your existing shower-rod. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt, which will die an angry death before its time. My husband and I have shirts from France and England that are twenty years old, and in perfect condition.An electric, energy-consuming dryer is an enemy to high-quality clothing. In fact, dryers shrink clothes and wear them out quickly; lint is composed of fibers that a machine robs from your clothes. You’d be surprised at how swiftly shirts dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, they’re easy to iron. In cases of stubborn collar and cuff soil, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach, as long as they are rinsed well, and then hung to dry. (Bleach alternative may be a better choice, if you can get it to work on stubborn stains.) The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and your shirts by hand-washing and sun-drying them.Giving your precious shirts to a dry-cleaner or other laundry service is wasteful. They crush buttons and machine-dry the poor things. Do clothes hanging on a line outdoors conjure up bad images for you? Too bad, because it is one of life’s simple luxuries to be able to dry a beautiful, well-made shirt in the sun–some of the best people do it. Believe me, it’s not remotely infradig to care for your own shirts. After all, who cares for them more than you do?~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 2008

Elegant Dressing

Comments by M-J on the Waist

It’s time for designers and marketers to stop calling a true waist a “high waist”. Just because the industry bastardized the waist for so many years (actually eliminated the waist altogether), and it was nearly impossible to find anything but the old, tired hip-huggers from the sixties and seventies, they assume that they can call anything that actually lands on the waist “high-waisted”. Innumerable are the times have I explained to both men and women that to wear trousers starting below the navel is to seriously truncate one’s legs. How many people are lucky enough to have very long legs? Only they can afford to sport this fashion foolishness without looking short and dumpy. A skirt or  pair of trousers that doesn’t come up to the natural waist is a waste of money. It is neither classic nor flattering to your figure. ~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008

 

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