Avoiding the Per Una effect

A little while ago, I noticed that my favourite jacket was dying.  It’s a very plain asymmetric jacket with a mandarin collar and a subtle pinstripe.  I bought it for £10 in the sales a few years ago and have worn it almost constantly from spring to early autumn ever since.  And this constant wear has taken its toll as the cuffs and hem had become very visibly frayed.

So, in order to keep it, it was suggested to me that I could trim the jacket to hide the damage.  But, the dilemma then was how to do this without the Per Una effect.  Per Una is a phrase that fills me with fear.  The Per Una department at M&S fills me with horrified fascination.  The effect of every garment in the collection is that they finished designing it, then gave it to a tartrazine-filled six year old with a box of ribbons, buttons and bows to finish off.  Take this latest beauty from their collection –

Note the unflattering length and fit.  Note the polka dot frill hanging down beneath the large check pattern of the skirt.  Then, note the snail trail of ribbon which does absolutely nothing to enhance the garment in any way.  Why would you do it?  Even on a fairly plain garment, there is still the fear that some stealth frills will appear from nowhere (probably down the back like fluffy dinosaur spines).

So, this is what I wanted to avoid.

What I started with was a length of black chiffon roses on net ribbon (huge Per Una potential in these if used carelessly).

After I had bound all the damaged edges with bias binding, the roses were attached to the hem of the jacket and to the collar.

roses attached to hem with grosgrain ribbon trim

roses attached to hem with grosgrain ribbon trim

Roses attached to collar with silver velvet ribbon trim

Roses attached to collar with silver velvet ribbon trim

At that point I thought that adding any more roses to the jacket would be entering into Per Una territory. So I stopped.  On the hem I had added some wide grosgrain ribbon and on the neckline some fabulous silvery grey velvet ribbon I had pounced on in MacCulloch and Wallis and which echoed the fine pinstripe in the jacket very well, I thought (any excuse).

The final touch was to draw the two types of ribbon together, on the sleeves, by setting the velvet over the grosgrain.

grosgrain and velvet on cuffs

grosgrain and velvet on cuffs

Per Una effect avoided.  I think.


2 Responses to “Avoiding the Per Una effect”

  1. fingersandtoes Says:

    I think the Per Una effect is created by M&S trying (and failing) to re-create embellished clothing done on a small scale by talented designers. Trelise Cooper is one designer who does this really well.

    Your efforts are definitely nearer the designer end of the scale!

  2. thepurplepurler Says:

    I fucking love this!

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