Wardrobe Architect 2

Part 2 of the Wardrobe Architect series is about ‘defining a core style’. This one’s been an interesting exercise which has raised a number of contradictions in the way I think about my clothes, which is possibly why I find it hard to think of myself as having a personal style. In particular, having both “tomboy” and “feminine” on my list of descriptive terms! I’m not sure how/if these two can be reconciled in a single style… but forging onwards…

The first two questions are about how I feel about my clothes – when I wear an outfit I feel works and when I wear clothes that don’t seem quite right. I think, given that I’ve spent so much of my life in clothes that aren’t quite right, it’s a bit tragic to find that those descriptors include things like “frumpy”, “middle-aged”, “like I want to hide” and “like I don’t fit in” while the me who wears clothes that suit her feels confident, comfortable, pretty, strong and outgoing. This definitely reinforces that I do need to be pursuing making more of my own clothes so I have control over fit, fabric and colour/pattern as I think these are key to the transformation, even more possibly than general style of clothes. I think what I’m wearing may have more impact on what I’m feeling and how I behave than I thought it did.

The style icons question I found quite hard to answer. Hourglass figures have been quite rare in the media since the 1960s and the only time I can actually recall being stunned by someone wearing something that I could even potentially wear was Anita Ekberg cavorting in the fountain in the improbably engineered black dress in La Dolce Vita, but that’s not a style I think I ever *would* wear – impractical for my lifestyle, much more overtly sexy than I think I’d ever be comfortable in, not to mention the whole question of “but how does it stay up????” which is the only thing I can think of in that entire section of the movie. In terms of women whose styles I love to look at: Audrey Hepburn (of course. Whose list ISN’T she on?), Katherine Hepburn (all those gorgeous trousers!), Ingrid Bergman. Is it a coincidence that I’m harking back to the films I loved as a teenager? Possibly not.

Actually, having now looked through a bunch of images (which is the step I was going to skip from the worksheet, TBH, because I didn’t know what to look for), I can see that a lot of the outfits I admire – especially for Katherine Hepburn – are ones that actually do combine a tomboy look with feminine touches. That second photo of K here, with the wide mannish trousers and the softer feminine blouse, for example.

The final exercise in the worksheet (skipping over a couple of steps here) is to end up with a condensed list of up to 5 words that I feel best describes the clothes I like. I’ve ended up with

  • stylish
  • natural
  • practical
  • quirky

with both feminine and tomboy fighting it out for 5th place. Most of these I think are self-explanatory, but by ‘natural’ I mean both fibres and nothing that’s unnaturally binding, contrived or clingy – a simple silhouette if you will, based on the behaviour of natural fibres (so some stretch is fine, but not all over lycra, for example, or shapes – like bodysuits – that rely on the stretch for their effect). The ‘quirky’ item is that aspect of how I like my clothes to be which elevates them from ‘classic’ (which I find dull), which may be a print, a bold/clashing colour, an unusual accessory or some sort of style mismatch like walking boots with a skirt.

Another observation I’ve just made from these sample images is the lack of jewellery being worn with these outfits. There’s very little adornment going on here – a couple of belts, hairstyles that would require a little work to set up, some earrings but otherwise it’s just the woman and the clothes. Interesting.

Now I’m beginning to have second thoughts about the fabric I’ve set aside for the Nita Wrap Skirt because I’m wondering what I’d wear on the top half with it… Will it actually get worn ever if I make it in this fabric? And while I love the maxi length, it’s completely impractical for wearing when I’m at home (=most of the time) because I’ll trip over it going up and down the stairs, which makes sorting out the top issue even more important. Maybe a short one would be more practical???

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