So much has happened since my last post, hence the radio silence for the past 6 months. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I decided to call time on my marriage. While I don’t recommend it in general, it was really the right decision for me. With that said, there hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on in my world. I moved from a 3+ bedroom home with my own dedicated sewing space into a 2-bedroom apartment with a nook in the hallway that houses a small desk barely large enough for my main machine. Most of my sewing supplies are boxed up in the garage, although I am slowly starting to go through them and have been working on setting up a makeshift space. I need my creative outlet and while I’ve been knitting up a storm, it’s just not cutting it anymore. So hopefully this will be the start of a resurgence in this blog. Life is unpredictable, so we’ll see what happens.
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Week 4 is about creating silhouettes. I have a pretty good gut instinct about what I feel great in (assuming I listen to it), so I’m combining this with more of the Vivienne Files’ Starting From Scratch wardrobe building steps. Today, I’m focusing on steps 4, 6, and 7. I’m skipping step 5, which is an accessory step, because my purpose for this exercise is more about creating a focused guideline for my fabric purchases and sewing.
Step 4 is adding jeans and a shirt. I love jeans, and the are probably the most-worn item in my wardrobe. I tend to prefer a dark wash denim and almost exclusively stick with blue; however, this exercise has you picking the jeans in the primary neutral, which intrigued me. I would love a pair of charcoal gray jeans! I don’t even know why I hadn’t thought of it! I would most likely stick with either a skinny or boot-cut jean, but may also go for a fun trouser jean that would be nice for work. For a button-up shirt, I really only wear long sleeves if I want something to feel more cozy (like flannel or chambray) or for layering purposes. I prefer my blouses to be short or cap-sleeved. So this is what I came up with:
Step 6 is adding accent color tops (I’m omitting the scarf for now – I’m still on the fence about their place in my wardrobe). So here are my aqua and coral colored tops added to the mix:
I love the subtle polka dots in that aqua top and love how both the aqua and the lace coral could be dressed up or down. I’m currently working on a woven tee pattern that I can see made up in so many different fabrications.
Step 7 is adding in the second neutral:
So there is my plan so far. The cardigans I’m just adding for visualization purposes. RTW cardigans don’t always fit me very well (gorilla arms, here!), but making them are not completely out of the realm of possibility either. A couple of ponte cardigans may materialize on that to-sew list.
I’m jumping right into the next topic, because I can! Week 3 in the Wardrobe Architect project is all about exploring shapes. The worksheet was a matrix where you filled in the styles that make you feel most comfortable – identifying the shapes and style lines of a garment that make you happiest.
I prefer my clothes somewhat fitted in general, and sometimes slightly looser depending on the style. This goes for most items, be it tops, jackets, cardigans, and pants. Nothing cropped, and nothing too short.
For dresses, I prefer the bodice to be fitted with a looser skirt that skims over the lumpy bits. My favorite types of skirts are those that are somewhat fitted at the top and flare out slightly at the bottom (either gored or a slight A-line).
For pants, my preferences run the gamut from skinny cigarette pants to wide-leg. I like them well-fitted, but not overly fitted. No muffin-top here!
I like it when the waistline is a bit lower than my natural waist – except I do love empire-waist dresses and find those to be the most comfortable when the skirt portion is sleek enough to not make me look pregnant.
Necklines: V-neck is my favorite, with U-, scoop, boat, cowl necklines all coming in closely behind.
Sleeves: Cap sleeves are my favorite, but I don’t have a sleeve length that makes me particularly uncomfortable.
These are all things that I already knew about myself, thankfully. For all the help I need in determining what I want my wardrobe to be, I have a very good handle on the general style lines and shapes that I am most comfortable in – and any time I try to stray from those I usually find myself wishing I had just stuck with my gut instinct.
Onto Starting From Scratch…I’m skipping Step 2, because I am good on shoes. Step 3 is a Cardigan and Tee in the same neutral color as the pants. This is the general look I came up with.
This is a great starting point when it comes to building a cohesive wardrobe from the ground up, but I will be honest when I say that I would never wear all three of these pieces together as a single outfit. One of the things I am working to avoid is a wardrobe of “gray and boring.” So the tee and trousers with a colored jacket would be great, as would a brightly-colored top with the trousers and cardigan.
Until next time!
Because I can, I’m not going to wait a full week between each Wardrobe Architect post. And because I can, I am also going to intersperse some inspiration from The Vivienne Files’ Starting From Scratch series. Because, really, that’s what I am doing.
Week 2 is all about defining a core style and identifying your style icons. At first I thought this was going to be very difficult, but once I really started thinking about the questions it became much easier.
- When I am wearing my favorite clothing I feel confident, sophisticated, and powerful. Like I can tackle anything that comes my way.
- When I am wearing something not quite right I feel ill at ease and uncomfortable. I want to avoid feeling fat or dowdy – I need a middle ground between stuffed sausage and tent. I also want to avoid feeling indifferent about my wardrobe. I want to love wearing everything in my closet and have that confident, powerful feeling all the time.
- My style icons – this is the one I thought was going to be difficult. But when I started thinking about the types of garments that fall into the first two categories, I realized that I resonate most with Katharine Hepburn’s feminized masculine style. Wide-leg trousers (maybe not quite as exaggerated as hers) are my absolute favorite. I also really relate to Cate Blanchett and Rachel Roy style-wise. I am not a girly girl, but I do like feminine elements. I love timeless looks.
- What am I not? I am not ultra feminine. While I love the idea of flowy gowns and super feminine silhouettes, when I wear them I just don’t feel quite right. They are just not me, no matter how much I wish they could be.
- What is my core style? Classic, timeless, simple.
Which brings me to the Starting From Scratch series. Because rebuilding my wardrobe is going to be primarily “basics” with a few fun pieces mixed in. I will also be focusing on accessories more than I have in the past and building up a cohesive collection of items to give my wardrobe that extra oomph. The Starting From Scratch provides a great formula to determine the holes in my wardrobe (there are many) and help me develop a more concise plan. First, I need to create a color palette. I am starting small, and using a Summer palette – since Summer can last easily into October in Reno. The suggestion is to pick two neutrals, two accents, and white/cream/ecru. This is what I came up with for my first palette:
I love these colors, they make me happy, and when thinking about the items that I gravitate toward in my closet this season, these are among the chief favorites. I chose a darker gray and taupe as my neutrals because, while I do love me some black, my gray RTW “Katharine” trousers and me-made taupe culottes invoke those feelings of power and confidence that I am looking to embody.
Step 1 is identifying a nice pair of pants. This was one of the top things on my list of items that I need to make for myself and I have already begun the process of modifying my culotte frankenpattern for a pair of wide-leg trousers. These will be in a charcoal gray wool suiting and will replace my favorite pair of RTW trousers that are in need of retirement. Similar in style to these Gap trousers, but with a slightly wider leg and a cuffed hem:
Next time I will tackle Week 3 of the Wardrobe Architect and a few more steps in the Starting from Scratch series.
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!
After yesterday’s post, I was doing some further reading and came across the Wardrobe Architect. Now, I know that I’m about 7 months late to the game here, but just reading through the Week 1 post really struck a chord that is in line with what I posted yesterday and where I am in my personal journey, “YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU LOOK AT.”
I know, when specifically referenced in the Colleterie blog series, this is more about all the “pretty” we are inundated with on a daily basis in regard to fashion – but it goes so much more beyond just clothes!!! So I felt compelled to mention it. I won’t go into a diatribe about unhealthy body image, or unrealistic beauty standards, or anything else that could be read into that statement. I will focus on clothes since the primary purpose of this blogging journey is really to rebuild my wardrobe from the ground up. And I’m now kicking myself for not having found the Wardrobe Architect sooner…but perhaps I wasn’t ready to see it before last night.
So I’m going on my own Wardrobe Architect journey. I have stated my truths, I know what generally looks good on me and works well for my body – and what doesn’t. I’m no longer trying to fit a mold that is not a reflection of the amazing work of art that is me. And I want a wardrobe that I can be proud of and that I will wear!
So I am off to work on week 1 – all about making my style more personal. Oh yeah baby, here we go!
I was reading all about the launch of the Curvy Sewing Collective today, and totally in awe of these amazing, confident women. It really got me thinking about why I do what I do and how I can do it better. Because I want to make more of a contribution to the sewing community that has done so much for me. Especially because, as a plus-size gal myself, I have a lot to offer!
So here are my truths.
I began blogging in 2007, previously over on Love and Pincushions and now here last year. I took a 4 year hiatus when my son was born. I was really not interested in sewing for a very long time due to several reasons, primarily postpartum depression. Once I came out on the other side, I still wasn’t myself and it has taken me a while to really love myself again. Funny enough, I was my happiest when I was about 250lbs. Here I am when I was at my heaviest, on one of the happiest days of my life (wedding dress and hubby’s vest made by my mom and me):
I have since lost about 60lbs, and after a lot of soul searching and talking sense into myself, I am in a much better place. I love myself, and I love sewing clothes for my body no matter what the size or shape. I exercise, I eat healthy, but where I am at now seems to be where my body wants to be. I work full time, I enjoy my family, friends, and hobbies, and I just don’t have time to spend hours in the gym to chisel the body that so many women I look up to do. It’s OK – because there are just as many women I look up to who have different lives and different looks and are all equally beautiful and talented and amazing. We rock, ladies!! All of us!!! And it brings tears to my eyes to be able to say that in a way that is genuine and free of any jealousy or comparisons of myself to some “ideal” standard. I no longer open a magazine and long to look like a Photoshopped version of a supermodel (or even the un-Photoshopped version!). That’s liberating!
I was starting to realize that as much as I want to share what I do, and put something out there that is worth reading, it’s meaningless if I’m not a REAL part of it. I am going to remedy that – for better or for worse, there will be pictures of ME on this blog. Am I perfect? Hell no! And that’s OK, because from this point forward I will no longer hide in the shadows, but rather be a participant in the world. So watch out world, I’m coming for you!