A Book of General Advice for Costumers
For a long time now I have been working on writing a how-to manual for costumers, always starting off with the idea that such a book had to be simple, straightforward, and instructional, like a cookbook, or a Chilton’s guide to auto repair. Every time, I fail. First, because my personality intrudes; second, because, (I’ve slowly realized) costuming, both design and construction, is an art, and can’t be expressed in purely mechanical terms. My writing becomes personal, I start to advise my prospective reader like one of my students, and the whole thing passes into a different area altogether: the “self-help” book.
At length I’ve realized, this isn’t so bad. After all, if there are self help books for shy people, “co-dependent” people, dieters, children of alcoholics, and every other group on earth, why not costumers? Why should we need any less support and advice than other mortals? Particularly, since we are, by and large,underpaid, overworked, and a complete embarrassment to our families? We do something for a living or hobby, that by any standards other than our own, is insane. M.Celestine G.Ranney says it best: “I make clothes for imaginary people.” Clearly, one way or another we need psychological support, as well as the usual technical help, even if only to make better clothes for imaginary people.
However, I still think that to be useful for a costumer, this book needs a structure that is as compartmentalized as a cookbook. If I want advice on anything, I want it to the point, not buried under a mountain of theory. So here it is, chopped into bite-sized portions that are easy to digest. Don’t read it all at once; it’s not that kind of book. —-T.M., 1995