The Love Affair With Haute Couture
Written By Melissa Marie
As a young teen, I remember dreaming of the day I would finally get to buy haute couture clothing right off of the runway. Clothes that are hand sewn, made with art visionary in mind. I poured over fashion magazines (pre-internet accessibility) and cut out my favorite pages, I framed my favorite photographer’s photos and imagined what it would feel like to be embellished in something so luxurious.
I would spend most of my early retail paychecks at TJ Maxx ( an American store that sells designer clothing and home decor at a discount). I would try to find pieces that were en vogue and contained the luxurious material that I longed to clothe my body in.
At TJ Maxx I once bought a blush colored, 100 percent silk formal gown with a hand sewn jeweled halter neck collar. Oh, it was beautiful!
It sat in my closet never worn with the tags still attached. I think it was a size too small, but I didn’t care. It was an exotic piece of art and I owned it.
Every time I would get dressed I would caress the fabric of the dress for inspiration for getting dressed that day. I gazed at every stitch of that dress, every sequin, and rhinestone in its place.
In 2006, the TV show Ugly Betty hit television and I was sold. I saw myself in her. The girl who adored fashion and magazines and incorporated her own style. A girl not afraid to show off her love for her family and clothing, no matter what the snarky staff at Mode magazine had to say about it. The Guadalajara poncho was hilarious and it showed off Betty’s confidence in what she thought what was beautiful. A confidence that I admired.
The Beginning of the Love Affair
My love for Haute Couture came from my first trip to Wal-Mart’s fabric isle in 1996. All of those patterns to make absolutely anything you wanted. Anybody could feel like somebody if they could sew from a pattern. My Mom had made me a rosy pink skirt, with a lace sash, the fabric touted its dark tiny little rosettes rested against the rosy-hued background and she sewed pleats onto the front of the skirt giving it a professional look. I was so proud. I wore that skirt every chance I got.
I taught myself to feel the fabrics and learn the blends. Each time we went to a fabric store I could tell whether the fabric was 100 percent or a blend by the touch.
A little quiz I still play as I guess then reveal the answer on the tag of the garment.
Ever since I can remember clothes to me were not just means to cover the body, they were a statement to myself.
A pair of red patent leather pumps helped me get over a broken heart, a silk taffeta dress with overlay lace helped me gain the confidence to live in the moment when I was in the hospital just the day before, a stark white gown of soft folds with a bolero cut jacket encrusted with hand-sewn sequins reassured the feeling that this was the day I married the love of my life.
Clothes were my feelings on my sleeve.
The Woman That Shattered My Rose Colored Glasses
I wore a gauzy black tea-length skirt with a black flouncy blouse. It was chic and modern. My skirt floated when I walked and my shirt had the flounce of the runway but a crispiness that gave it that professional confidence. I wore classy black leather, square-toed heels. My hair concealed into a sleek bun and a handbag that touted its beautiful crimson color to offset the all minimal black ensemble.
My clothes were put together and I felt in control despite feeling sick to my stomach. I was fighting illness back then as well and clothes were the only thing I had that made me feel in control.
I walked into work that day feeling confident, overdressed for my cash representative position but I did not care. That careless, confident attitude came to a quick halt when we shall name her That Woman, cramped my style.
That woman ( the office manager) called me to the side, her long fake, glittery fingernails wrapped around a mug of steaming coffee, her breath wreaking of a recent cigarette break. She pointed to my outfit while looking at me from head to toe, she said, “This is not professional. Do not dress like this for work again. Dress for the job, simple and professional. If you ever want to get anywhere in the corporate world you will knock off this high-end flouncy look. The corporate dress is collared shirts and basic skirts or pants.” I don’t even remember how the day ended, but I do recall feeling glum and my future bleak.
Where did I belong if I couldn’t dress up the way I wanted?
I was not the girl to wear a basic button up and sleek bottoms. This was when the collared shirt only came in basic black, white, light blue, navy, pale pink and tan with basic factory buttons. Nothing adorned just simple stitching and no flattering inseam to give the body some credit. Square shirts are what I used to call them.
Now in 2018, there is some flair and fashion in the corporate dress code, but in 2006 it was pretty basic and that woman rained on my gloomy sick day and shattered the confidence that I believed my clothes that hugged my sick body gave.
Maybe she was trying to help. I will give her the benefit of the doubt, but for me, it crushed my creative inner nerd.
Ever since that day, I began to purchase basics. I haven’t spent a penny or a hundred dollars since on pretty key pieces. I played it safe and EVERYTHING has been basic.
Haute Couture Is Not Practical
Haute Couture is not practical because it is art. The beauty of couture is that it is art that can be worn. A statement not of who you are, but of the appreciation for the artist and one’s taste to relish in it. It is a celebration of the interwoven linens and fabrics that give the outfit the crispiness or the soft bounce. The outfits aren’t fast fashion where the thread spools are flying about and the seamstress is just trying to meet the quota deadline. No Haute Couture is a masterpiece from brilliant minds and hands. A lot of patience and tedious work goes into each and every piece that is completed.
Trench Coat $2595, Dress #47 Just a few items I would love to start a non-basic wardrobe.
Chanel. 36 $2800 Cape, Jacket $8800, Skirt $2800, Boots $1300
Images and outfit: Chanel
Crushing on this outfit!
The Love Affair Is Rekindled
I am tired of basics. I have felt for a long time that the look I was going for was effortless chic, however, the reality is that in my heart I have suppressed the urge to splurge with color and buying quality key pieces. I have never stopped admiring the runway show’s each season touting the Haute Couture with flair and spicy pizazz. Only to return to my minimal wardrobe and throw on a crisp button-up blouse with a pencil skirt. I am glad that I have great basics, but it is time to let that inner fashion goal-digger out.
I believe this is the only time that I can unashamedly admit to an open love affair, that is with clothing of course.
That woman is no longer my boss and her voice of basics is getting trashed in the trash can where it should have been a loong time ago. I will be buying more of what makes my heart happy, practical or impractical it does not matter.
Now, my financial independence budget says that I cannot yet purchase high-end pieces like the ones in the photographs, but it does not mean I cannot save up and buy higher quality pieces to relish in the art and let it bring on this graceful stage of life called my 30 somethings.
Let’s go for it. Dress to remember the important events of life and that also means today!
I have said it before, Do not allow others to dictate your wardrobe it is okay to love clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories, life is short, I say go for Haute.
Live Life, Beautiful.