Lean Times

A couple of weeks ago I was looking to purchase a couple new pairs of dress pants.  In looking at what is currently in style, I noticed a new trend.  Well, maybe it’s not so new to everyone else.  I have noticed it more with suits – it’s called, Slim Fit.  I’ve actually seen some male celebrities wear this style of suit on award shows or talk shows.  How to describe it?  It looks as though someone is wearing a suit one size too small and I half expect the arms and legs to be too short because the rest of the suit is so much tighter.  Supposedly, the cut is slimmer (especially in t he arms and legs) for a more flattering look without so much excessive material.  There are now different names for different cuts – traditional which is what we’re all used to, slim and tailored which is somewhere in between the two.

I remember buying a couple of suits about seven years ago and, while they were tailored for me, they still featured the “traditional” fit.  I actually didn’t like one that much, as I seemed to swim in the jacket from the start.  I could have easily gained 50 pounds and the jacket still would have fit.  I actually had someone from church ask me if I had lost weight when she saw me in regular clothes as opposed to my suit.  So, in some regards, I could see getting a leaner cut, especially if you have the body type for it.  I’m just not so sure about the “slim cut” as it only accents the guy’s slim form which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  I have to wonder whether this concept was created by a fashion designer or by a manufacturer who was trying to trim production costs.  Think about how much less fabric is used in a slim cut versus a traditional fit (and they probably retail for the same amount).

Then again, the style and cut of casual clothes has been pared down over the years from the baggy, roomier style that used to be common place.  I can actually tell what shirts I’ve had for a while because of how much material is in the sleeves, versus a new shirt which has a narrower cut.  So, it appears many manufacturers are attempting to cut back as much as possible in an effort to cut down on costs. I think it’s a sign of the times.

While there were crowds at stores on Black Friday looking for the best deal for Christmas presents, come January 1 we’ll all be looking at our budgets and wondering what to cut, especially if we go over the fiscal cliff.  I know when the recession hit in 2008, I had to tighten up my budget, cutting out unnecessary items and wondering if I’d have enough money for groceries.  That stays with you, that leanness in spending.  While it’s fun to spend wildly and not care about the consequences, you realize what you spend frivolously now could be saved for something more important, like food, gas or shelter.  One of my projects while on vacation is putting photos in albums.  I used to be more on the ball with it, back in the film days.  Now that it’s all digital, I forget to even print them.  I generally end up burning a DVD with a year’s worth of images and then sending it to a company and having them all printed.  Which is what I did … last year.  Yeah, I’m working on images from 2010 and 2011!  I still have to have this year’s images printed!  Sigh.  The box of prints came just as I was beginning work on my kitchen and there it sat for over a year waiting for me to deal with it.

Here’s the problem, the prints are all in packets, nothing is identified.  So, first I had to open up all of the packets and sort out the events (the floor of my study was covered in stacks of photos). Then I had to go back to the DVD and look at the date of each event, combining them one by one.  I go on a lot of photo shoots, so I have LOTS of prints to deal with.  It was a frustrating way to spend my time.  I realized last night that, not only is this part of it a waste of time, but also a misuse of my finances.  When I sit down to burn this past year’s images to a DVD for printing, I’m going to be ruthless about which images I print.  Only the images that are the best will I print.  There’s no reason for me to print twenty different shots of the same tree just because they all “turned out”.  Nobody wants to see them all, even I don’t want to look at them all.

So, I guess I’m doing the same as manufacturers and/or designers – trimming off the excess and producing a slimmer piece.  There’s something to be said for going lean, you find out what’s really important, what you can do without.  And, when you find you can do without something you realize that it isn’t the stuff that made you happy to begin with. In going without, you find out who you are at the core of your being.  For instance, I don’t need all of the images I take to be printed out because it’s the act itself of going for a walk or bike ride and taking the pictures that I really enjoy and that part of it doesn’t cost me anything but my time.