Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Two sides of the same, tired coin: DIY/Bespoke

I remember my time living in London mostly fondly, but if I'd had a penny for every time that I ran across either of the above listed terms emblazoned across a storefront, headline, photo caption or bus shelter ad, then I would have had a shed-load of worthless coins and an even more sour attitude than usual.

I don't remember hand-built furniture being referred to as "bespoke", but now it's being termed as such:
http://www.thesofaandchair.co.uk/bespoke?n=n&linkfrom=bespoke_furniture&gclid=CNfJxqHdkqkCFUEb4QodPGjjkg
If those are an example of "bespoke" living room pieces, then, um, no thanks.

Would that then mean oil paintings really are just bespoke pictures and stand-up comedy is just bespoke language?

Time was when the term "bespoke" only referred to tailored clothing. And, if I'm correct, it really only referred to fancy, men's suits and such. Back in the 70s, I don't think that I could get away with saying our mom made us kids "bespoke" clothing.  We'd needed something decent and yet affordable to wear to elementary school, and that was that.

I remember my older sister had Mom make her a pair of wide-legged red pants with the Coca-Cola logo recurring all over them. They were ridiculous.  But, hey kids of the 8th grade, don't laugh, those pants are bespoke!

Bespoke coffee


Bespoke mustache
Bespoke gin

And as for DIY, don't use this term if you can't back it up. I noticed that a lot of hardware/electrical supply stores in London have "DIY" written across their awnings. Well, that was the hook to get me into the store as I had some American lamps that I wanted to re-wire.

Lured by DIY storefront signage, I had gone into a one-off hardware and appliance shop to inquire if they had electrical cords, plugs and such for re-wiring foreign lamps. "No, we don't have anything like that. Check B&Q (UK's Home Depot)." I thought: Okay, I guess I'll help you run yourself out business. Or, here's a better idea, stock items that actually pertain to the DIY bit on your signage. (And, no, light bulbs don't count. -neither do screws or nails.)

When my Dad changed the oil on his car, was that DIY?  No, it was a guy changing the oil on his car, as most people did back when I was a kid.

Don't let's label what was and for many of us still is standard behavior as something more than it is, and let's also remember that most of what we pay someone else to do for us we used to do ourselves!


DIY fruit and veg
DIY Hairsalon

DIY lunch

13 comments:

  1. I have no idea how I came across that Bespoke furniture the other day, but it was a WTH moment. I only ever heard bespoke as referring to one's fiancé, and that use by my great grandmother, whose grasp was questionable.

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  2. Here, 'bespoke' meant having a wooden carving of your feet stored forever at your shoemakers, and paying upwards of £3000 each time you had a pair of shoes made. DIY is making your own shoes to save money. If you make your own shoes all your life and become good at it, you became a professional shoemaker.

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    Replies
    1. But could a professional shoemaker charge upward of £3000 for a pair of kicks?

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  3. Yeah, I thought bespoke was for fancy suits, too. But as the kids have redefined extra and basic, why not bespoke, too? (They're both insults, BTW. Well, mostly.)

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  4. I always thought that bespoke not only applied to up market clothing but that it had to be commissioned for the individual. A row of suits (no matter how fancy) with no particular owner in the frame couldn't be bespoke. They were 'off the peg'.
    And sigh on the disappearing skills front. I can remember a woman I worked with, a lover of food, who had never, ever made a cake that wasn't from a packet.

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    1. Yes, 'off the peg' (here: off the rack) is for those of us not worth a mint. :)

      In the early years, my mother made our clothes & we cooked from scratch. Over time, however, packaged foods started to take over & mom stopped sewing.

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  5. Dear Bea, I'm really old because for me "bespoke" was the past tense of "bespeak" and meant give evidence of. For example: Her speech bespoke a time spent in Ireland. So now I learn a new meaning for "bespoke." thank you. As to DIY, you are so right about what used to be and what is today. Peace.

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    1. bespeak/bespoke is a verb I have only read in books, but never trusted myself to say aloud. It has a ring to it like other be- verbs: beloved, besmirched, etc. May all be well. x

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  6. I am not familiar with bespoke and I think I am good if I don't have to incorporate it into my vocabulary but I did enjoy your post about it. DIY is fine but it does feel like overkill with its usage. Have a good one.

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    1. Thanks, man. I was feeling a bit snarky with this one, but it is interesting to note how language changes/gets co-opted over time.

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A piece of your mind here: