Seeking to explore ways that fashion is embedded in the complexity of people’s everyday lives, not just those of the young or fashion-conscious, this article was the first major output of a collaborative, AHRC-funded research project (2012). It stemmed from the authors’ growing perception (developed over many years and surfacing in other aspects of their research) that theories of fashion had been over-concentrated on fashion as an essential component of modernity–a position exemplified by Elizabeth Wilson’s 1985 bookAdorned in Dreams. Believing that there was the basis for a serious challenge to Wilson’s view, the authors’ research set out to address the question, ‘Does fashion involve ordinariness and continuity as much as the extraordinary and the novel?' In this, the article attempted to make a theoretically useful contribution to the fields of fashion and design history. Fundamentally theoretical in orientation, the article built upon earlier work by Buckley and Clark on home dress-making and second-hand clothes. It adds to the critical questioning that has emerged regarding fashion as design and process, representation and identity, and as social-cultural artefact. At the same time it proposes a radically different idea of the nature of fashion change.