A wearable wardrobe

Over the last year, my sewing projects have meandered along as and when something catches my eye – someone blogs about an interesting pattern, or I spot an exciting fabric on eBay.  Nothing wrong with that, but I’m feeling the lack of order and co-ordination.  I still end up wearing all the same stuff on short rotation, while other items barely get worn.

So this year, I want to be more focused about creating a co-ordinated, wearable wardrobe, not just individual garments.  To help in the quest, I’m turning to the Colette Sewing Handbook (of course!) and Nothing to Wear? by Jesse Garza & Joe Lupo.

First step: figuring out my style.  The Handbook recommends picking out 5 items that you love to wear, and working out the common themes or qualities  (I’ve really enjoyed reading other bloggers’ posts on this topic!) Here’s mine:

Spotty Pendrell top; Peaches and Picnics dress; Maxi skirt;

Joules Carrick Boots; Laura Ashley Birds cardigan

Looking at these 5 pieces, my personal style seems to be:

  • prints! Back in July I identified how much sewing has changed my attitude towards print and pattern, and now it makes up almost all of my fabric stash. Even the cardigan, which goes with almost everything because it’s navy, has those little embroidered birds to keep me interested.
  • feeling comfortable: I love the fact I was able to play a whole game of rounders in my Peaches dress; and that my Carrick boots are waterproof and faux fur-lined (I’m virtually living in them right now).
  • easy care: none of these items need handwashing or even ironing – stick em in the wash, hang em up to dry, and it’s sorted.
  • feminine, but not too girly: I’ve got ruffles, floral fabrics, skirts, dresses, bows, but I like to mix it up with jeans, chunky boots and monochrome.

 I also did the questionnaire in Nothing to Wear? which put me as having a ‘whimsical’ style.  I wasn’t convinced when this was described as ‘sometimes ethereal and romantic’ but then I looked at the example pictures and style icons (such as Kirsten Dunst and Sophia Coppola), and the phrase ‘thoughtful combination of color and pattern’, and actually I think it fits.

Garza & Lupo describe a wardrobe in terms of ‘cake’ and ‘frosting’ .  ‘Cake’ is the basics – neutral colours in flattering styles.  The ‘frosting’ is the statement pieces – patterned or embellished or ‘trendy’ fashion pieces.  “Without the cake to support the frosting, you will either find it too difficult to pull together a coherent oufit, or you will appear too busy, too over-the-top” (p.90). 

This is exactly the problem with my favourite items – I couldn’t combine any of them in one outfit, there’s too much frosting.  I need to make more cake!  So by the end of 2012, I hope to have created a wardrobe that I can mix and match for any occasion, co-ordinated and comfortable and in line with my lifestyle.  Watch this space…

10 thoughts on “A wearable wardrobe

  1. I know exactly what you mean, I get drawn to a print and then make something that I like but it doesn’t go with anything else. I’m too conventional to be all mixy-matchy and eclectic so I end up in patterned skirts and white t-shirts! Or boring jeans and tops so this year I’m setting myself a challenge to be smarter and more put together by making lots of dresses.
    Then I will approach the coordinated separates….. I think.

    • Yes, dresses are the answer! Sadly, I’m still a little shy of them, and don’t wear them as often as I think I will. Good luck with your challenge!

  2. A great start to the year – very organised and planned. Your 5 top favourites look like they suit you – looking forward to your ‘cake’ pieces this year…

  3. Interesting post! I’m working on this myself right now, so I appreciate this kind of input and suggestions. Keep us updated on your garment choices. 🙂

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