Rick who? So, what the *$%# is rick rack? You’re probably sick of people asking that question — if one more person asks me what rick rack is today…! — I’ll bet. It comes up a lot in conversation, I know. Happens to me, too. So you’re probably relieved that I’m addressing this question in a blog posting. Rick rack is a haberdashery item, sold in fabric and craft stores the world over. The word haberdashery is also an interesting one. It’s roots lie in ancient times when men selling buttons, ribbons and suchlike would dash about the country side in small carts called habers. I just made that up, but it could be true right?
An extensive 3-minute search on Google tells us that it’s actually a combination of an Icelandic and Scandanavian set of words, although what those two countries were doing with buttons and ribbons when this word came into being hundreds of years ago, I’m not sure (surely seal fur would’ve been more their stock in trade?). Rick rack is a kind of ribbon and is wavy. Like the demonstrator model draped over the denim shorts in the photo below – that’s one I prepared earlier. That’s also really big rick rack – the jumbo size.
Ok, so now we know what rick rack is. Why are we talking about it today? I hear you intone…. Well, let’s circle around to that one, shall we?
What are the rules, exactly? I’m commited to not buying any clothing items for 12 months. We’re all agreed on that, and it’s ten lashes with a wet noodle if I break the rules of the challenge (or some other socially acceptable, or unacceptable, punishment – a public shaming could do nicely). Does this mean I cannot change, alter or otherwise jazz up existing items, currently residing in my wardrobe, I wonder? Say, for instance – just a theoretical What If – I had a pair of denim knee-length shorts – nice, but fairly plain (kind of like a contestant on a makeover show).
And let’s just further suppose that I wanted to jazzy them up a bit by, say, how’s this?, applying some large rick rack to them – a bit around the hem, perhaps on the side seam, something like that. Give them a bit of vavoom, jazz, zest and zing (so they’re more like the ‘after’ on a makeover show). Now, if I were to do this – would this be ok, acceptable, perfectly fine, copacetic, ok dokey, hunky dory? And therefore, not a breach of the rules of the 12 month challenge?
Late last week, a traveller came calling Well, actually, Mum and I went shopping. Not shopping shopping, as in trawling the mall for hours – I’m not completely insane. But we went a bit here, and a bit there. Kind of like “butterfly” shopping. I’d worn said nice-but-plain denim shorts recently and felt they were a little too plain and toyed with the idea of doing a quick makeover on them. I wondered where the line in the sand with the rules of the challenge was. Exactly.
I pondered the rules of the challenge, being a believer (at least at times it suits me) in self responsibility and here’s what I came up with: I didn’t think it would contravene the statute or the spirit of the 12 month challenge if I jazzed them up using materials I already had. The only bit that seemed to “go gray” was the purchasing of the additional item (enter: jumbo size rick rack) with which jazzing up was to be accomplished. Total expenditure: $3. The spirit of the challenge can be broken whilst the rules remain intact, and vicey versi, and I was keen to answer in the positive to both.
Not the first time, I’ll bet. I’ve been doing this stuff for as long as I can remember. I recall being at the movies with my high school friend Tina and exclaiming in the middle of a movie “what I’ll do is paint the white shoes red!” – a solution to a problem that neither of us knew I was wrestling with (and let’s not even start on what I was doing with white heels to start with…. it was the late ’80s which may explain things).
Fortunately Tina was all too familiar with these exclamations, knowing that the workings of my mind was a 24-hour operation and involved thoughts of altering items in my wardrobe so that the entire thing was like a game of chess…. “if I dye the sandshoes orange, and shorten the sleeves on that printed top…. I could then have a replica made of the yoked skirt, and I’ll replace …..” – a conveyor belt of ideas that seemed never to stop. I’ve been working on the quieting of my mind in recent years, so the endless non stop flow – the torrent – of mind activity doesn’t overwhelm my every waking moment. This is an undertaking of seemingly gargantuan proportions, but I have made some headway with it, I can happily report.
That said, I enjoy altering stuff I’ve got. It’s fun. I love dreaming up the changes I want to make to things (wouldn’t these pants be great with a cuff of animal print! How about removing those two beads from these earrings? …if I added a button to this jacket and removed the shoulder pads….). I don’t do a lot of the actual doing, (my sewing and beading skills being of say, a rudimentary level) but I’m great at finding people who can. And I’ve got lots of ideas.
It’s a bit green. I also reckon doing stuff like this is a cheap and effective way of keeping your wardrobe fresh. Instead of throwing something out or giving it away – renovate it! Rejuvenate it, reconstruct it, refresh it! Alterations are often much cheaper than buying something new, and it’s also a much more creative and resourceful thing to do. And there’s less stuff going in the rubbish bin (whoever puts it there – you or the thrift stores) which means less stuff going into landfill. Renovating existing items keeps items in your wardrobe fresh and gives you options for new combinations: this – refashioned – now goes with that, that and that. Neat huh?
Sure, some things can’t be salvaged and they’re better off going to the wardrobe in the sky (or St Vinnies thift shop). But probably many more can be than not. Right?