How do you feel about the High Street?

Image from here
I'm so over the high street.

Last weekend I decided to go shopping for a denim skirt - I've got a gap in my wardrobe for a plain, casual skirt and thought I would treat myself rather than making one. I tried on a few and eventually bought one, but later returned it to the shop. Ok, it was just a denim skirt, but the experience summed up everything I felt about high street clothing. The fit wasn't great, the quality of the item was so-so and it just didn't feel worth the price, which wasn't even very high.

Since January, without even consciously trying, I've only bought the following clothing items from the high street:

2 pairs of shoes (Clarks & TK Maxx)
1 pair of sandals (TK Maxx)
1 Dress (Monsoon sale)
2 pairs of leggings (Primark)

Plus tights and pants from Marks & Spencer.

I just find it hard to get excited about the high street shops I used to go in to. Partly this is because I feel that most of the items aren't worth the money - either too expensive for what they consist of (simple patterns, poor quality material) or too cheap so I know they will fall apart and not last. I also am fundamentally uncomfortable with the voracious consumerism our society encourages and am very aware of the dubious origins of much of the clothing that is readily and cheaply available for sale.

Now I have started to make my own clothes I have much higher expectations of clothing - I want it to fit, I want it to last and I want to love it. (Hey, how's that for a mantra?)

I had thought that I would be able to buy the odd high street item, particularly things I'm not so excited about making, like plain skirts and tops. However I don't think I can. When I tried on the denim skirt at home I admitted to myself that it didn't fit how I wanted it to, and I wasn't very excited about it. So, now I'm going to have a go at making a denim skirt myself. I'm sure I've got the skills, but I have so many things I want to make that it's a question of finding time.

I'm not saying that I will never shop on the high street again - Clarks and TK Maxx will remain firm favourites, and I don't ever see myself trying to make a pair of jeans. However I much prefer to rummage through charity shops and vintage stores and of course, make my own clothes when I can.

How do you feel about high street fashion? Do you embrace it? Shun it? Allow it into your wardrobe in limited quantities?

Do you try to be sustainable and buy from ethical brands? If so you might be interested in this post by Kristen of KristenMakes who had made sustainability a focus in her MA studies in Fashion & Textile design.

Have a good weekend

K x


  1. I have a love hate relationship with the high street nowadays. I can't walk into a shop like matalan or topshop without being disgusted at the quality and fit. But I still adore high end stuff that I can't afford like Joules, Boden, LK Benett, Hobbs and Jigsaw. The stuff is just made better and although its pricey Its stuff I'll love forever. Plus if you decide to ebay it, it doesn't become worthless the moment you buy it!
    I have started making my own basic jersey tops because they just fit. Pure and Simple. If I could be brave enough to do a lingerie class or something I would make my own bra's too! I commend you for deciding to make your own skirt. You will be far happier knowing its to your own specification! x

  2. I am very much a beginner but I still recognize quality even if I have a hard tie replicating it (for now). I look at some of the dresses I have in my closet and I can't believe I paid so much for such simple patterns. Now I find myself refraining from buying lots of the items that I can make or can make eventually. But I will shell out some money for things I cannot possibly dream of doing. Well, as long as it's on sale :)

  3. I've had a similar reaction to the high street of late. I find the whole process utterly dissatisfying. I'm so astonished by the sometimes poor finishes, cheap fabrics and poor fit - I've also become the "I can probably make that" shopper, even though I still consider myself a beginner. Sadly the shops that do offer quality (as Stevie mentions) are a bit out of my price range for regular shopping. But I don't mind it for the one-off item - it's much better to buy one good dress/skirt/sweater etc, that fits well and lasts, than 20 cheap ones which don't last out the season. As my gran says "buy cheap, buy twice".

  4. I absolutely agree on the cheap fabric/badly put together comments. I'm trying to buy less from the high street now I'm making my own clothes, partly because it's an expensive hobby to create your own wardrobe too! I bought a top from Zara a couple of weeks ago - it had a slipstitched hem on the bottom and the sleeves which unravelled within a day. Having said that - I loved the shape, so I made a pattern from it and reproduced it twice already - so I suppose the high street is giving something back! Loving your creations :)

  5. I hear you. Since I started making clothes earlier this year I just can’t bring myself to pay for overpriced items of clothing that are poorly made and that I know I can make better. I knit, so it’s been a while since I bought sweaters. I have hardly shopped for ready made clothes this year and I must confess I like it. Finding “sustainable” clothing at shops can be can be near impossible. Like you, there are a few items that I know I won’t be making (such as jeans, underwear and shoes), now, if I only had all the time in the world to make all the things I want to make !

  6. Thanks so much for your comments - I can see I've struck a chord!
    As Stevie and Shivani said, the high end of the high street is worth investigating for the odd special purchase.
    Stitchandwitter you're right that making things yourself can be expensive too - I've spent £60 buying wool and needles for a project before, but would struggle to shell out that for a jumper in a shop.
    Melizza and Andrea, you're both on the same page as me with the 'I'll make as much of my clothing as I can', but only as much as time permits!

  7. When it comes to clothing, I avoid the high street like the plague! I find them overly loud, overly bright, overly crowded, and filled with shoddy merchandise. Making things myself usually is less expensive, though it does come out on the more expensive side now and again. However, when I'm making something for myself, I know it will last a very long time. :)

    For shoes and other necessities, I buy the highest quality product that I can afford.

  8. I agree, sewing has made me hate shopping so much more. I am never satisfied with the quality, or the fit, or especially the PRICE! I always stomp around thinking how little the fabric cost. Now I really only buy the rare pair of jeans, knit tees from target and sometimes cheap trendy items from forever 21 or target. Shoes are the only thing I enjoy shopping for...

  9. Hi Sarah and Molly - yep, shoes and also handbags are the main thing I shop for, though I try not to get too carried away with those!
    I always buy leather if I can and have a great cobbler who mends my shoes as well as sewing any seams on leather bags. He's fantastic!

  10. I also have a love/hate relationship with the high street. Unfortunately, I like what's on offer in the higher end shops, but I have a Primark budget, which is my main reason for wanting to sew my own wardrobe. I will spend money on one good quality pair of shoes or boots, and say, a leather handbag, but because I usually have to save for these things, I make my choices more carefully. I went into the Primark branch at Braehead; it's like a warehouse, and I found it depressing to see rack upon rack of poorly made items, plus I also think of the ethical issues attached. Mind you, I don't think a lot of the higher end shops have a better ethical record. Personally,I think there's too much choice and I get the feeling that people have to have the latest 'trend' rather than creating a classic wardrobe that can be relied upon for years.

  11. Hi there, it's funny that Sewing your own really does alter your standards! I found that shifting to the thrifty 365 pledge has made the high street ( and online clothes ) not even interesting anymore. I found it was only a habit. And it's helped me to to consider making everything I possibly can. Now there will be things I can't and fail at, but I shall try. It's interesting how everyone else has commented too. Aren't we lucky that we can at least take some of this on for ourselves. X

  12. I couldn't agree more, I don't even bother looking at high street clothes much now because I know I can have a go at making most of them. Shoes, underwear and knitwear are my exceptions and these are the areas where I like to splash out a bit. Good luck with your denim skirt - I made one a few weeks ago and wear it all the time (I'm wearing it as I type!) I think it's worth making sure the fit is as good as you can get, so bravo for returning yours to the shop. x

  13. Totally agree! Sewing really makes you examine clothes a bit more closely. I always look at the fibre content and little things like how the hem is sewn, the buttonholes etc.

    Glad you are a fellow Clarks fan. I counted up all my Clarks pairs of shoes the other day and think I have about 8! They are so well made.

  14. I can't remember the last time I made a deliberate shopping trip on the high street, although I pop in the stores from time to time and am always disappointed. I only go shopping if I (like you) need to fill a gap in the wardrobe, but even then I find that it is not filled! The sad thing is though, it is cheaper to buy a simple H&M tee than it is to make one, fabric in the UK can be so expensive! That's why a responsible wardrobe requires such deliberate and patient planning. But it is worth it in the long run because then it is yours and unique. Thanks for sharing my post about sustainable fashion! It is such an important topic and it is really growing in awareness with shoppers.

  15. Forgot to say earlier, I'm also a BIG Clarks fan! x

  16. Thanks ladies, I can there are quite a few of us thinking on the same lines! The whole shopping and cheap fashion culture is so unhealthy and you're right, Scruffy Badger, that it is so good we can take back some control ourselves by opting out to a certain extent.

  17. I've only shopped on the high street twice this year, once for 70% reduced swimwear from Debenhams and last week when M&S reduced their bras down to £3. I loathe it.
    In the old days each shop had it's own style but these days it's the same wishy washy prints and the same poor quality wherever you go. x

  18. Learning to sew has definitely made me spot the faults and shortcuts in mass-produced clothing, and to an extent it's made me think twice about a cople of items ... but I've just waited for them to go in the sale before buying!


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