In which I discover I could use the Wardrobe Architect after all

This rather long post really is mostly for me - do tune out now if you find wardrobe planning tedious and narcissistic! I've really enjoyed the Wardrobe Architect series thus far over at Coletterie, but I've not taken part in it because I just didn't think I really needed it. After all, I pretty much know what suits me, and I'm starting to get more sensible with my fabric purchase and pattern choices. I'm no longer dazzled by pretty prints quite as easily, and I have consciously chosen not to get overexcited by the latest new patterns sweeping the (mostly northern hemisphere and therefore not my season) blogosphere. Instead I'm focussing on what I will get a lot of wear out of and then waiting to see what new patterns will suit me (and it allows time for other sewists to test them and iron out any glitches ;)!). I am a planner by nature though - I love lists, and planning what I will sew, knit, take on holiday, do in the garden etc etc. And right now I'm in a bit of a planning funk - an end of season funk I think. I'm hoping by doing the Wardrobe Architect I'll get out of my funk.

The Wardrobe Architect


The first couple of Wardrobe Architect posts were quite.... I don't know.... A bit deep and introspective for me. Don't get me wrong, I love fashion and I love feeling fabulous and comfortable in a chic outfit, but I can't really say I have a deep cultural, spiritual or philosophical connection to my wardrobe - I just don't think about it that seriously and so I wasn't that jazzed about doing the exercises. Maybe if I was writing this 5 or 10 years ago when I was a little heavier and wasn't as comfortable with my bod as I am now I might feel differently. Anyway, what I want to get out of the wardrobe architect project is a paring down or simplification of my wardrobe, to the main shapes and colours that suit me, and that I love, that I can sew or knit or buy again and again without making mistakes, wasting time and money, and ensuring I can always look put together. Even at work where looking chic and stylish are not at all a priority.

So a few things have occurred recently which culminated in me writing this post. The most recent Wardrobe Architect posts (silhouette and colour) got me thinking about past choices (good and bad) and oh my god for just a few minutes I wanted to live the life where I could wear Sarai's wardrobe choices! These last couple of weeks I've been on holidays, which means I've been in casual clothes and worn far more of my me-made items on a daily basis, compared to my usual life when I am working (and tend to wear my nicer me-mades on weekends only). This past weekend in particular I have been able to do an enormous amount if people-watching (one of my absolute fave past times!) at the Riverboat Festival; I should be more specific - women's outfit watching (and I must be fully honest here - a lot of the time I was judging - summer festival fashion in Australia is not always the most tasteful!). And finally by accident I found a new blog to follow whilst down the internet rabbit hole.

Putting Me Together is a fairly low-key fashion style blog by Audrey which focuses on building a wardrobe of pieces that mix and match together in as many ways as possible. Whilst I'm sure there are many many many style blogs out there I don't go looking for them (I waste enough time on the internet thinking about my clothes as it is). What I liked the most about Audrey's strategy is the way she builds her 'remixable' wardrobe using 5 main guidelines - how many other pieces a new piece can be worn with, how many different ways it can be worn/styled, wearing coloured bottom pieces, accessorising and layering. She tries to ensure any new piece she adds will match with at least 4 or 5 other pieces or can be styled in different ways. It's not rocket science, I know, but she's got a great series of posts spelling it all out which I quite enjoyed and it's a concept I'd like to try to adhere to.


So, to the Wardrobe Architect.  I'll try not to bore you too much. I'll cut to the chase with what I have found most useful in trying to define my style....

Influence of lifestyle, culture and those around me...
I like clothes that are comfortable, chic, flattering and a little bit different. I get cold easily, so wear a lot of layers. I don't like to reveal a lot of flesh (especially as I am the whitest person in Australia!) but I still like to feel attractive at the appropriate time. I'd rather wear fitted clothing than expose too much skin. It's more important to me to be comfortable rather than drawing attention to myself, but at the same time I don't want to be invisible. For work I need clothes that are sturdy, allow a good range of motion but look professional at the same time. When I am at home relaxing with my beloved we often wear what we call 'Stretchywear' but I refuse to leave the house in such clothing unless I am going to exercise. In my world leggings are not pants! Unless it is Stretchywear Time I will usually wear some sort of jeans/shorts/skirt and top combination. Separates are the most useful items for me as I just don't get a lot of opportunities to wear dresses. Primarily I dress for me - but of course I want my husband to like what I wear so I do sometimes run ideas past him. But intrinsically he likes my style so it's only occasionally that I will consciously choose to wear something that falls into the 'man repeller' category (floral Clovers I'm talking to you!). Finally, the only other external influence on what I choose to wear is that of ethics. I know I don't know where most of the fabric I buy has been made, but at least I can control that the bulk of what I wear has not been made under sufferance or appalling work conditions. 

Core Style and style icons...
When I'm wearing clothes that make feel great I actually don't notice that I am wearing them. It's as if once I'm dressed and I establish I'm happy with the look and the comfort then it's out of my brain for the day. On the other hand if I'm wearing something that, for example, creeps down under my muffin top and needs hoiking up, or is too short or too tight then I find I'm constantly readjusting/tucking/ yanking or faffing with it. Sadly it seems that a lot of my me-mades, especially the earlier ones, fall into this category. It shows the importance of perfecting the fit of a pattern, the value of a TNT pattern or style doesn't it? Clothes that are made from beautiful, natural fabrics, fit well and are comfortable make me feel confident, stylish and unique. I want to feel fabulous but in a subtle way. Crappy fitting and unflattering clothes make me feel quite the opposite. Style-wise, now that I'm in my mid-30's I need to stay away from the cute and the twee - an excess of Peter Pan collars, owls, short circle skirts and foxes whilst sweet and whimsical, should not and will not feature heavily in my wardrobe! A hipster I am not.

Source

I love the chic simplicity of French women. I love the frenchie style so much. I love the look of the late 60's - and the stylish women from that era - the ubiquitous (but no less sensational) Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy and Joanna Lumley. I think Juliette Binoche, Kristen Scott Thomas and Audrey Tatou are fabulous (but sometimes look like they could do with a good feed!). Another woman whose style I adore is the utterly fabulous comedian Julia Zemiro - she's French but was raised in Australia. And finally, a woman I admire not only for her style, but her grace, ethics and general awesomeness is our outgoing Governor General Quentin Bryce.

The marvellous Quentin Bryce
The fabulous Julia Zemiro

Clothing shapes....
The Wardrobe Architect work sheet for this is pretty great! So easy to pinpoint exactly what I like and what works! So for me:

  • Trousers - mid rise (to keep the muffin top and butt crack both tucked in!), slim or skinny fit, full length, Capri or 7/8th ankle length. 
  • Shorts - mid thigh, mid rise, but relaxed fit around the legs. 
  • Skirts - full skirts above the knee or slim fitting pencil skirt style to the knee or just below.  Mini skirts only with tights or leggings and not too tight. Natural waist to high waisted. 
  • Dresses - fitted around the bodice and/or waist (unless a shift) and either full or loose bottom half. Never short unless sleeves are long (and then only with tights or leggings). Usually to the knee or just below. 
  • Shirts - slim fitting, hip length or longer. Long, sleeveless or 3/4 sleeves. 
  • Blouses - slim or loose fitting depending on bottom half. Sleeveless or any sleeve length depending on style and season, except cap sleeve. Hip length. 
  • T-shirts - somewhat fitted or relaxed fit with boat neck, cowl or round neck. Never v or collared! Kimono, dolman, 3/4 or long sleeves. 
  • Tanks - scoop front, spaghetti straps or straps wide enough to cover my bra straps. Fitted or relaxed. 
  • Jackets and coats - hip length, or mid-length, but never to the ground. Belted if longer. 
  • Cardigans and jumpers - loose or fitted but never too long. Hip length or cropped. 

So in a nutshell it seems I don't like my tops too long, my trousers loose, and I like my waist defined. I won't wear anything very short unless I'm in tights or leggings. I don't like cap sleeves as they cut my arms off at their widest point. I'm unlikely to wear a tight top and tight bottom unless it's long sleeved or below the knees (bottom). I struggled with my weight as a teenager and in my 20's, and it took me a long time to realise that just swamping my body under loose oversized was no way to dress myself. As such I can't stand long, shapeless clothing, especially something that makes me look the same width the whole way down. 
Depending on the situation I feel equally great in some fabulously fitting jeans and a boat-neck tee, or a lovely fitted-bodice dress with a full skirt. I love wearing shirts with the sleeves rolled up, slouchy shorts and a sun hat when out and about in summer. I live in cardigans. All have slim sleeves, and come no longer than my hips. I loved my Laurel shift before it shrank. And I feel so put together in a waisted belted dress and sandals. 

Next post I will talk about silhouettes and colours - the fun part! Oh my goodness Polyvore is such fun - like paper dolls for adults! 




Comments

  1. Thoughtful post. I've been trying to be smarter about my pattern and fabric choices, but still taking risks from time to time as my body has recently changed and I'm learning when now looks good on it.

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    1. A wardrobe without risks wouldn't be much fun, would it? I just want to minimise waste!

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  2. This is such a great post! I am not doing the Wardrobe Architect, mainly because I am pregnant, but also because i am fickle and particular but I am also flighty and my mind is easily changed! Plus, like you, I feel like I have my style pretty sussed (and actually although i'm fickle, I am also one for wearing about a million colours and/or prints at once, so if things "go" in my head, I'll wear them). But the more of these posts i read, the more i realise that it might be a worthwhile exercise after all. I am certainly enjoying reading others' posts on the subject. I'm really looking forward to reading about your silhouette and colour post.Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Helen - you've been rocking some awesome maternity dresses I must say! This process really has helped me solidify the looks I have that I love, and the looks I want to achieve too! Maybe post bebe it might be a better time to do it (with all that free time you'll have - ha!)

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  3. This is fantastic! I so need this in my life. I had a style before baby and now I have a new body (actually smaller) and a new routine (lots of time at the park and play dates) and all of a sudden I feel a little lost in my clothing choices. I had to wait for nap time to read all of this post but I'm so glad I did, thanks :)

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    1. Haha - it was so long wasn't it - thanks for hanging in there. If anything I think post baby you'd need to feel extra fabulous in everything you wear compared to pre-bebe because you would have a lot less time to spend on yourself. And so you absolutely deserve some rocking playwear! Look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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  4. I'm totally with you on the Julia Zemiro and Quentin Bryce thing. Julia especially is so unique and fabulous, I think she could make a paper bag look good! I might have to add Sarah Hanson-Young, as far as pollies go she is always dressed so well.

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    1. S.H.Y. Is very stylish too, thanks for reminding me. Oh I just love Julia - especially when she hosts Eurovision - she's superb!

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  5. I was lured in by the very things you were put off by! I live to analyze and overthink. I wholeheartedly agree with your desire to not fuss with clothing while you're wearing it - that is the quickest way something ends up in the giveaway pile for me these days. Also, did you know that Melanie from Seamstress Poppykettle is also really into Quentin Bryce's style? Great minds!

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    1. Ha that doesn't surprise me at all Morgan! And no, I didn't know that about Melanie, but again it doesn't surprise me - Quentin's lovely Chanel-esque suits would be right up her couture-loving alley!

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  6. Such a great post! I've been following along with the WA series and really enjoying it, but haven't sat down and actually articulated my own answers yet. I have been musing over it all though, and it's making me want to do a massive cull! I hear what you're saying about cutesy/twee - the older I get, the more I value simplicity. And isn't feeling comfortable and satisfied in your own skin the BEST thing about getting older?!

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    1. Thanks Danielle! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've already started to cull my wardrobe, ruthlessly. And I definitely agree, I'm much happier with my bod, style and self in general in my 30's compared to my 20's. Although I really wish I'd been sewing my own clothes in my 20's, I'd be so good by now! :). I look forward to reading what you have to say, if you decide to post on the WA.

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  7. You know, this is the first wardrobe architect post I've read and now I'm wondering why I'm not doing this exercise myself. Really. I went through a period when I would buy RTW clothes that I never wore because I just never felt comfortable in them. That happens less often now (including with clothes I make) but I think I could have a more cohesive approach to buying/making stuff. Definitely going to check out this blog you mention because I like the idea of creating outfits as opposed to one-off garments. Reading your list of shapes was great too as it got me thinking about my own list (I do love me a good list!) – thanks for sharing Sarah!

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    1. Hi Andrea, I'm glad you found it a useful read! I deliberated over posting it at all actually because I thought it was a bit narcissistic, but as I said at the start it really was mostly for me, to make more meaningful decisions on my wardrobe choices!

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  8. Love this post. I'll be back to re-read more thoroughly - was reading on a mobile device - but just a quick note to say that I find your comments really interesting. Thanks for sharing it and I'll be back for more.

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