Wardrobe Architect and a new way of thinking about clothes

I think I’ve written here before about how the way I view clothes in the shops is changing now I’ve begun to sew. And part of that, I’m now finding, is recognising that shapes which I’ve always avoided before might actually look good on me. I’m thinking in particular of cropped jackets and tops, which have always been problematic for me because they ride up in front and become indecent – but of course this is a fit issue, so if I’m making adjustments so that things fit, then theoretically at least, I shouldn’t be dismissing cropped things because they’ll actually have a chance to look like they’re supposed to.

Part of this thinking has been in association with working my way through the Wardrobe Architect series on the Colette HQ blog, which is a really interesting series of posts on identifying personal style. I feel I’m floundering a bit with personal style, mostly because my entire adult life has been spent going “hey! this fits around me! and the colour’s quite nice!” so while I feel my sense of colour is quite strong (although even that’s changing – I actually bought a rose pink top last week, something I would never even have considered before, and it looks spectacular on me!) In terms of shapes I don’t really know what suits me and I suspect there’ll be a fair bit of hit and miss with the sewing until I work it out. Hence the consideration of cropped tops – is this a look I like? Sometimes. I think cropped jackets might suit my frame perhaps if they fit right (although given that I prefer my tops on the longer side, I’m not entirely sure how that works). I don’t mind a slightly short jumper in the cooler weather. So with that one I guess I’ll just make a mental note to not dismiss a pattern release because it’s cropped, wait and see what it looks like on other women and when I find one I like, to make it up and see how that goes.

So I just did the first week’s exercise and actually that was pretty interesting. Clearly my body is the biggest factor in determining what I wear. There’s a whole nexus of issues ranging from being self-conscious about my bust and tummy, vein marks in my legs and digestive problems which mean I don’t like things to be tight around my waist. I do find it interesting that I recently remembered that as a child my mother would continually dress me in quite shapeless dresses (possibly because they were easy to make??) and my constant complaint was that they needed a belt and (as I got slightly older) that they made me look short and fat. I even had one, theoretically-very-pretty dress which I dubbed “the short-fat dress” at the age of about 8. I don’t wear belts over things much at the moment because tummy, but once I get rid of that and I’m making things where the bodices actually come down to my actual waist rather than everything being empire-line (which I don’t think suits me at all any more as it tends to emphasise the bust) I can see the belt obsession returning in a big way.

Another key influence right now (one which is causing some confusion for me) is that I’m mostly hanging out with people who are much younger than I am. I really like they’re style, but a) it’s a very modernist style which doesn’t really favour an hourglass figure and b) it’s quite a youthful style and I don’t feel I can just adopt it wholesale because of my age. I’d feel a bit mutton-dressed-as-lamb. So I think the answer there – which is something that sewing of course facilitates! – is to work with fabrics that use the colours and geometric patterns that channel that vibe, but try to identify shapes that work better for me. The indie pattern companies of course will be a big help here because they’re offering styles that fit in quite well to this style, but I get to pick and choose which ones work for me and make them fit. I suspect my shape means that vintage-inspired silhouettes will generally be more flattering on me, but perhaps a mix-up of vintage and modern could work?

I’ve not sewn anything for a little while now and the obsession has calmed down a little – partly due to lack of time, partly due to a realisation that I’ve spent as much money on clothes and sewing bits in the past 2 months as I might have spent in a year or at least 6 months previously. I also now have a decent wardrobe of nice clothes to choose from, especially now that I’m fitting back into some of my older clothes. I do want to keep going though. I messed about with the darts on the Megan dress, and yes, I think they need to be 3 – 3 1/2 inches away instead of the 2 1/2 the internet said, so that’s noted and that dress put aside to become a bag once I get some lining fabric. The Nita Wrap Skirt pattern is all printed and assembled, so my task for today will be to trace it off onto tracing paper. And maybe cut it out? Let’s not get too ambitious here 🙂 I do want to get cracking on the FBA again, but as I have fabric for two projects currently, I might focus on those for the moment and wait till August to replenish the stash.

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