Wardrobe Architect – Making Style More Personal

Because I am SO late to the game with the Wardrobe Architect (having only just discovered it a couple of days ago over on A Make it Yourself Mom’s Diary), I am going to go through it at my own pace. Some weeks may take a day, others may take longer. I think at this point, the key is for me to just figure it all out so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed by the idea of building my entire wardrobe.

Week one is about identifying all the things that make you unique. This personal story helps you take a realistic look at your life and circumstances in terms of fashion; it ultimately becomes a reflection of what you really need your wardrobe to be and will set the foundation for achieving it. Sarai includes a worksheet that has 7 main points and some questions to help get you started. So here goes:

When I was younger, I liked to push the envelope with fashion. Being 5’10” and under 100lbs at age 13 made for a very difficult time finding clothes that fit. I was too tall for kids sizes, and too skinny for adult sizes (I personally loathe the references to Misses’ and Women’s sizes as if there is a distinction). This was before size 0 became a regular staple in clothing stores and the smallest size available usually was a 5/6. Sewing was a necessity mainly because we didn’t have a lot of extra money for new clothes. I didn’t realize it until later, but it was also a necessity if I ever wanted anything to fit. I always resented having to wear homemade until I was in high school and that’s when I really embraced the individuality that came with being able to control my fashion destiny. My first me-made was a pair of flare-leg “jeans” from an old tablecloth my mom had in her fabric bin. It was a ridiculous floral medallion print with hot pink, yellow, orange, lime green, and white. I loved those pants and ended up making a matching skirt. From there, my eclectic style grew and I was all over the map. To some degree, I still am and this is where I really struggle – how to take my various eclectic style preferences and make a cohesive wardrobe.

I grew up in Southern California and the Pacific Northwest, so a lot of my history in terms of fashion comes from disparate climates. I now live in Reno, which is high desert. The influences from each of these locales, while all “West Coast” are so different.

I was once a sucker for cheap, fast fashion. Once they started making clothes in “tall” sizes, I ate it up. Problem is, it never really fit right. I am attempting to become more of a minimalist in how I approach fashion. I now have a “less is more” attitude and my style reflects that. I don’t go for crazy bold prints very often, I tend to pick neutral colors, everything sort of goes with everything else in some way. The problem is, going from crazy eclectic to gray and boring didn’t do much except make me feel gray and boring. So now the challenge is to bridge that gap between all over the place and snooze-fest.

I am a West Coast girl through and through. The great thing about the West Coast is that it really is an “anything goes” kind of lifestyle. Living in Nevada, we have a great mix of old west country style meets California transplant. The PNW culture was, when I was living there, flannel shirts and puffy vests. Southern California was shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops year round. I think this has contributed to the eclectic nature – I am influenced by all of these factors. I once had a pretty strong point of view when it came to mixing disparate styles, but that seems to have gone by the wayside when I began foregoing my personal style in favor of working and raising a family. Hence, the transition to gray and boring.

I am influenced by those around me, but I don’t know to what degree. Of course, the social cues of “you’re going to a cocktail party, wear a cocktail dress” apply, but Nevada is so strange. Reno is not nearly as all over the place as Las Vegas, but it is not uncommon to go to a fancy steakhouse and see people wearing shorts and flip flops. Living here, I would obviously wear non-vacation attire to the fancy steakhouse, but it’s hard not to feel overdone when you’re the only local and the only one dressed appropriately for the venue. I am influenced by the sewing community, but there is far more “look at that! I want it!” than there is figuring out if that will even fit my lifestyle. For example, I am very much in awe of Erica B and Carolyn’s creations, but I do not live the kind of lifestyle to warrant having that many amazing dresses, or even wearing heels on a daily basis. Even in my career a suit is a bit over the top.

I work at a desk job in a casual office. When I’m not working I am home with my family enjoying whatever activities we have going on. They usually involve things around the house, riding bikes to the park, lunch trips to Lake Tahoe. Sometimes there will be date night, a wedding, or event, or a work meeting that requires more professional attire – but those are not very often. Our lives are pretty simple. My standard “uniform” is jeans and a top (dressy top for work, t-shirt for home and weekends).

Reno has all four seasons, albeit it Spring and Fall are fairly short compared to Winter and Summer. We have a long, hot Summer, and a long, cold Winter. My wardrobe needs a combination of seasonally-appropriate items and layering pieces that can bridge Summer and Winter. We get a LOT of wind year-round, so as much as I love skirts and dresses, they are just not always practical.

As I mentioned in a previous section, I was once 5’10” and 100lbs. I’m still 5’10″…in reality I am more comfortable and confident in my own skin than I ever have been before. I was about 250lbs at my heaviest, and have lost 60lbs and have managed to keep it off even with having a child. I could probably stand to lose another 30lbs, but I don’t really see the need. I’m healthy, I eat right, I exercise, I indulge, I live a great life. I prefer fitted garments, but not so tight that I feel like a stuffed sausage. Being so tall, I have a very difficult time finding things long enough in the length (this includes legs, arms, and torso).

Since the purpose of this whole rejoining of blogland was to more specifically chronicle the building of a wardrobe, I figured it was time that I sat down and focused on what I wanted that wardrobe to be and make it happen. I leave you with some pictures of the tablecloth pants and skirt that I mentioned above. I still have these in a box in the attic – I’m pretty dang proud of them. Not too shabby for my first 100% me-made items at age 14!




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