M7445 Cropped Wide Leg Pants

What do you know, all my obsessive planning has at last resulted in a completed sewing project that instantly became a beloved wardrobe staple. It’s taken a couple weeks to get this post up and I’ve worn them no less than 7 times already! Behold my new McCalls 7445 cropped wide leg pants for which I shamelessly copied Katie’s modifications because I love how flattering and comfortable a completely flat front pant is.

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In addition to replacing the front closure with a hidden back zip, I added one inch to each side at the hem and blended up to the hip notch to widen the leg without affecting the nice snug fit through the hip and waist. Since my frame is it’s widest at the hip, I find the proportions more attractive on me and closer to the look on the models on the envelope. Aside from those changes, I sewed everything up according to the instructions and it was so quick and easy I can’t believe I didn’t start making my own pants sooner! I did a little unpicking to adjust the front crotch curve after trying them on, but found the fitting instructions that came with the pattern really helpful and applicable to any pants making project so the money spent on the pattern was an especially good value.

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The fabric is a light-weight denim with a slight 4 way stretch making the fit snug yet comfy without ever sagging after wear…confirmed because I wore them for 4 full days before washing them the first time. Since this fabric has been stored in my stash since working at JoAnn’s over 15 years ago (a bad habit I’ve broken), I was unsure of the fabric content or quality, so I went into the project hoping for a wearable muslin. It was a pleasant surprise to come out with pants I absolutely love. Considering the decline in quality of so many other things in that same period of time, the age of the fabric may have been to my benefit, come to think of it.

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My sewing project list is long at the moment so I’m not going to sew these up again right away but I definitely want another pair in a colored or printed fabric and with my traced off and modified pattern pieces it will be a breezy afternoon project next time, yay!!

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I wish I’d taken a photo wearing these on my trip to Santa Fe, but didn’t think of it. They were so perfect for the 90 degree heat since skirts tend to cause sweat/chaffing issues underneath if you know what I mean and these were light and swishy enough to keep my skin protected but not overheat like a standard pair of jeans. I know these will get lots of love in my summer rotation and beyond!

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Spring Wardrobe

When I wrapped up Part I of my Spring Summer Wardrobe Inspiration, looking at the Runway, I was anxious to throw together the street style and sewing pattern portion but was quickly overwhelmed by all the ideas I had saved and decided to get  back to The Curated Closet and work through a few more chapters to narrow my scope…and 1,000 hours later, here we are!

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The combined result of multiple chapters is a small collection of images that represent specific details about my personal style and capture the eclectic blend of all my favorite things. It includes things I already love and wear as well as pointing to pieces that will be true wardrobe treasures. Printing and sorting everything out on the table was the most fun and helpful part. Grouping the images in various ways made it clear which fabrics to use for basics, which key pieces are needed to create my repeated silhouettes, and how to incorporate color, print and embellishment in ways that will truly be versatile. So lets get into the details…

Favorite Silhouettes

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fitted top + wide leg pant // softly tailored tucked top + high waist midi skirt

As much as I tried to narrow down redundant outfits, I could not bring myself to delete any of these because I’m in love with all of these colors and I realize that my collection of tops can be pretty small because I crave variety in bottoms a lot more. This explains why buying a cute new top every time my wardrobe got boring never worked!

The Patterns

  • True Bias Lander Pants: I love the exposed button front and pockets on these pants but I think I’ll end up widening the end of the leg on the full length view.
  • Simplicity 8058 by Cynthia Rowley: I waited for a pattern sale at JoAnn’s and then it was out of stock so I’ve just ordered it from Etsy. The sewn up versions online look promising.
  • Sailor front pant: I’m on the hunt so if you’re reading and have a pattern suggestion, please do share!
  • High waist midi skirt: I’m planning on drafting this one myself, which should be pretty simple.
  • Simplicity 8019: I picked this up in a $1 sale then days later found a vintage (80’s) version that could easily be restyled into this exact style. I’ll be blogging it soon and not sewing this up right away, but might go for a second one eventually.

Pants, Pants and More Pants

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I wasn’t sure how some of these images fit into the big picture until sorting them into groups, but a 40’s style trouser, cropped wide leg pant and a statement fabric boyfriend style have now been added to my sewing list. Once again, variety in bottom colors and silhouettes will increase my outfit combo’s a lot quicker than throwing more tops at the same pair of blue jeans, so this list is particularly long!

The Patterns

  • Simplicity 8243: I picked this up for $1 at a JoAnn’s sale in hopes I can recreate the top left looks.
  • True Bias Lander Pants: I love the look of this pattern enough to plan on sewing up both the full length and cropped version, but the cropped will be a lower priority since I’ve already thrifted a similar style in denim.
  • McCalls M7445: I fell in love with these on Katie’s blog and plan to copy her modifications to make a flat front pair. (These are currently about halfway done)
  • French Navy Calyer Pant: These were an impulse buy the moment she released them. Luckily, I think if I consider statement fabrics like the bottom row above, they actually check a box on my wardrobe wish list.

Gray Basics

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I ended up with a medium gray piece in every single garment category which wasn’t shocking since it’s my preferred neutral so when I make the trip to LA, I know I can pick up jersey, linen, suiting or bottom weight materials and have a project to pair with any or all of them. As for the moon shirt, I’ve been wanting that for so long that I think I’ll just pull the trigger and order it on ETSY.

The Patterns

  • True Bias Lander Pants and/or Cynthia Rowley flares
  • Self drafted midi skirt or Simplicity 8019 70’s button front skirt
  • Alabama Stitch Book: The appliqued tank was on my 2017 Make Nine list and I never made it but still want to wear it and definitely still want to complete a project in this book I’ve owned for years.
  • Menswear inspired vest: This will be lower on the sewing list since I have a great little thrifted vest collection and may score one before I have the chance to sew one, but if I see a good looking pattern on sale I’m open to scooping it up.

Basic Tee’s with a Twist

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I love these simple, comfy, easy to wear but interesting styles and can see pairing them with all of my dream pants and skirts up above. I don’t have patterns paired up with any of them yet but I know there’s plenty of raglan’s to be had and I’m confident if I sat down and did it, I could also draft these using my old college drafting book. The gathered top on the left would best serve me in white but the other two would be amazing just as pictured. Guess I’ll just see what I find on my fabric hunt!

Long Layering Piece

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A lightweight long line layering piece is another item from my 2017 make nine that I never made and still had represented in my final collection of pictures. It’s also one of the few things that actually uses a printed fabric so that will be fun to shop for.

The Patterns

  • Simplicity 8553: Another $1 sale pattern. I’m hopeful View C and the right print will come together to create what I’m after.
  • Button down dress: I’m loving the idea of a dress to wear unbuttoned over jeans so this is on my radar if I see the right pattern, but no plans yet.

Military Inspired

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In time, a vest and jacket version of both the army green and black with gold trim details would be amazing to own, but for the current season I’ll aim for a vest. Guess I’ll decide which gets made first depending on whether I score an army fade garment to upcycle or the perfect gold trim first.

Embroidery

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Get in my closet, all of you! Just love the homespun vibe of these creative pieces.

The Projects

  •  Neckline Embroidery: The perfect accessory and I have a thrifted white tee hanging in my closet begging for the spotlight.
  • Sashiko mended jeans: These have been on my wishlist for quite a while but I don’t have the right jeans to start with…on the thrift list for now.
  • Embroidered white blouse: Those incredible crisp white button downs are by Tessa Perlow and I want to make my own! They combine a look I already wear and love with the handmade details I crave, just total perfection, and designing my own embroidery is something I’ve always wanted to do and never gotten around to.

Feminine Romantic

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I’m consistently drawn to these colors and fabrics and think tops are a practical way to wear them in my real life. I’m thinking one 40’s style blouse (which I’m open to buying in a vintage shop if the opportunity presents itself) and something like the upper left hand tank which is pretty but also very beachy and wearable.

The Patterns

  • Simplicity 8462: The design of the button back blouse in this pattern has potential but I haven’t found any reviews online of it sewn up, so I’ll make a sample to test it out then decide if it’s worth using nice fabric for.
  • Simplicity 8216: I’m in love with this blouse and the many sewn up versions online make it very promising. I definitely want a sleeveless version with the bow but could see myself wearing multiple different views and combinations.
  • My self drafted tank will be a perfect base with a couple quick modifications

40’s Floral Dress

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This will be a lower priority since date nights / girls nights where I’d wear it are seldom, but I will keep my eyes open when fabric shopping for the right floral that feels completely “me.” No pattern yet and no rush, but if I had the need to dress up, I’m not prepared with what’s already in my closet, so it seems fair to include this in my longer term plans.

Accessories

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I have a cool piece of artisan made woven trim I picked up from a Scandinavian Festival that I wear as a necktie like this photo. I LOVE it and could add one or two different variations just to switch things up. I used to go for statement jewelry and I was surprised to see that there’s almost no jewelry in my images, but instead, a garment as a stand out piece with the exception of the occasional woven belt.

Colors

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These two non-outfit images made the cut for the mood and colors. Wes Anderson, how I love thee!

From the Runway

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Last but not least, I had to take a moment to compare my findings to my runway inspiration because I’m obsessive thorough and found plenty of overlap! The green and blue, pink and red, sleeveless crew neck, buttoned up, and St Laurent were all clearly translated to looks I can reach for on any given day. The one thing that didn’t come through in my street style inspo is the Coach 90’s vibe, so maybe I’ll just have to appreciate that from afar and not bring it into my closet just yet. I do question whether you’re too old to play with a trend that’s happening for the second time in your lifetime…maybe so? I haven’t completely ruled out Doc Martens though, so maybe not??


This whole exercise became more of a long term handmade wardrobe plan than simply a seasonal update, but I’m okay with that because I waste a lot of potential sewing time stalled out between projects not knowing what to do next. Also, since I plan to drive down to LA to shop for fabric, it will be nice to have a specific list to work with and stash materials for multiple planned projects at once.  Trekking down there with my 4 year old will be…interesting…better make it worth it!!

In other news, I ordered a tri-pod that allows my camera to shoot in portrait orientation and a cordless remote because my camera situation has been putting a real damper on my blogging abilities. When it arrives, I actually have two projects to share and would love to play around with some outfit round ups and things. Back soon…

SS Wardrobe Part I: Runway Inspiration

While industry insiders have moved right along to Fall, I’ve been looking back at S/S 2018 shows and pinning away onto my Editorial/Runway pin board. The looks I’m drawn to generally don’t directly translate to my real life, but a board filled with beautiful artistry has proven to be a great reference to borrow details from while beginning to think about my next seasonal closet and sewing project(s). I followed the widely recommended process of pinning freely without overthinking then combing through and looking for patterns. Here’s what I found and how I might apply it to my real closet.


Green & Blue

Mint, seafoam, pistachio, olive, sage, chartreuse, teal and a touch of baby blue! So beautiful, all of them. I already own pieces in many of these colors, so I’ll mostly be shopping my own closet to make combinations I’ve previously overlooked.

SS2018 Blue and Green

Delpozo, Anya Hindmarch, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Fendi, Derek Lam


Pink & Red

This color combo, which was once favorite, disappeared entirely from my wardrobe for at least the last decade and now I’m suddenly pinning it ALOT. I own one red dress, but it’s more orangey than cherry and not a stitch of pink so I’ll be looking to pair these colors with one or more of the patterns I have planned to sew up for spring.

SS2018 pink and red collage

Boss, Coach, Alexander McQueen, Adam Selman, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Bottega Venetta, vivienne Westwood, Rojas, Alice + Olivia


Sleeveless Crewneck

This cut was represented repeatedly in a wide variety of styles and is one I’ve always felt really comfortable and attractive wearing. After nursing a child for much longer than I ever anticipated, it’s nice to look at tops without considering accessibility, if you know what I mean! I’d like this cut for a basic tank, statement tank and everyday dress so I’m thinking a blend of sewing and thrifting will be in order here.

SS2018 High Neckline Sleeveless

Delpozo, Marni, Loewe, Nicole Miller, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana


Buttoned Up

A couple years after eliminating all my corporate office attire back in 2014, I started craving some more grown up looks and reintroduced a collared shirt to my wardrobe by way of a vintage looking patterned blouse which I wear buttoned all the way to the top. I’d love a drapey short sleeve version for spring and summer and found lots of inspiration for layering them in interesting ways or achieving the look without the traditional button placket. I haven’t sewn a button down shirt since college so this would be a great project to take on in terms of improving specific skills and fun to fabric shop for, but I’ll also keep an eye out while thrifting in case a perfect item presents itself.

SS2018 buttoned up collage

Alena Akhmadullina, Prada, Delpozo, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Ace & Jig, Anya Hindmarch


Coach 1941

This is one designer where I found myself pinning the entire show while wondering when they starting making anything other than handbags. They weren’t even on my radar before and here I’m seeing all my high school wardrobe dreams come true! It’s like a more luxe version of the layered thrifted slips and doc martens with black knee high socks combo I was sporting back in the early 90’s. This has me feeling crazy nostalgic and in need of a slip dress, STAT!

SS2018 Coach Collage


Saint Laurent

This is another show I just loved in general, the flowy cream blouses with structured jackets, incredible accessories and interesting but wearable shorts. I can actually imagine wearing all of these pieces in my real life but will mostly be taking styling inspiration unless I can find a piece of similar jewelry in my budget…and the detail and colors of that jacket might become a future sewing project as my skills improve!

Saint Laurent


You may (or may not) have noticed that Gucci was represented in every category…obsessed! I’m determined to build a thoughtful versatile wardrobe full of color, print and ornate details and there’s so much inspiration there.

My original vision for this post was to include both runway and street style inspiration along with the sewing patterns I’ve selected, plans for executing each one and pieces I already own that I’m excited about but it’s taking longer to put together than I anticipated and was getting way too long so I decided to split it into a short series. Be back soon!

Collection: Jackets

After considering my pullover sweaters as a collection last week, I decided to continue with a series of each category because I found it helpful in narrowing things down to those pieces I use and love as well as determining what would be a worthwhile addition, if any. This week was our coldest yet, 50 degrees! Haha, can you tell I’m from Southern California? It might as well have been snowing as far as I’m concerned. But anyway, I’ve actually needed to wear my jackets so it’s been a good test to see if I have exactly what I want to go over any outfit when I reach for one, and so far I have.

Neutral

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Celebrity Pink (thrifted, 2017), chinese jacket (thrifted, 2016), Mossimo (thrifted, 2017)

These are the easiest jackets to reach for since the colors go with pretty much anything and between the three styles, one of them always seems to work with whatever else I’m wearing. The military inspired coat was a recent addition (October of last year) and replaced my Patagonia puffer for the occasions I’d like to be warm and stylish. Now I can reserve the puffer for active wear. The Chinese style jacket meets a similar need but isn’t quite as warm so they each earn their space and after two fall/winters in heavy rotation I still love it as much as the day I scored it thrifting. The green doesn’t get worn as often as I expected because even though I love the bold shoulders and versatility, it always feels a little too dressed up and I end up changing my mind before leaving the house. The best part…they cost less than $25 combined!

Color

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Alberto Makali (New, 2004), Colorblock coat (Handmade, 2018)

This purple coat was one of those purchases I left behind because it really wasn’t in my budget at the time, but when I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I went back and put in on credit. I think it was around $70 on sale but that was a lot for my situation 13 years ago, and I’ve never regretted it. Not even when friends said it looked like something their grandma would knit or my husband reminds me for the 100th time that he thinks the shoulders look weird. I just love this jacket!! And I don’t wear purple, except for this. It’s my one purple garment and it’s the perfect one. Then of course, the colorblock jacket I just finished recently, which I’m happy to report is getting lots of love. I like how layering it over sweaters or button downs exposes the sleeves underneath but also look forward to throwing it on over tanks for breezy spring afternoons. It’s headed for it’s first wash so I’m anxious to see how it will come out. I’m hoping the linen starts to soften up with wash and wear.

Personal Style Notes

I love that my jacket/coat collection is filled with statement pieces that are fun to wear but easy to layer over anything and I’d say for now it’s complete. Our cold season is short lived here at the beach but our evenings can be windy and chilly even in spring and summer so it’s great that a few are lightweight enough to carry me through the year and I don’t have too many bulky items to store off season.

I do see a couple opportunities for future updates though. First, the chinese jacket is already in need of mending and I can tell the padding inside is deteriorating. I truly love this piece, so I could see sewing a replacement in a silk or silk blend with longer sleeves or scooping up a replacement from the thrift if I were to be so lucky to find one again. Second, the military inspired coat is polyester, which is easy to throw in the wash, but I’d love to replace it with a perfectly tailored version in a more luxurious natural fiber. On that version I’d lose the back peplum as well. It’s kinda fun, but not “perfect” if I were starting from scratch. This is a project I’ll hold off on for a while though since it’s going to be pricey and I don’t trust my skill level to invest in it yet. What I have will hold the slot just fine for a number of years until I get there.

Aside from those future projects, nothing on the wishlist for this category!  I’m just going to work on styling the green jacket with my spring wardrobe so it’s get more wear because it hasn’t been a key player for winter like I expected it would and I really do like it.

I’m still working on my Spring/Summer runway inspiration post and figuring out what my next sewing project(s) will be but since it’s the coldest it’s been I haven’t started swapping anything out in my closet yet. Instead, I decided to start a 100 Day Project and make time for dollmaking every day, so that’s been consuming my sewing time for the time being. If you’re interested in checking that out I’m on Instagram @littlestreamstudio posting bits and pieces of my daily progress. I do look forward to some spring sewing though…soooon!!

 

 

Collection: Pullover Sweaters

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Top Row: Gap (New, 2015), Banana Republic (Thrifted, 2016), J.Crew (New, 2011)
Bottom Row: Banana Republic (Thrifted, 2017), Vintage Mervyn’s (Thrifted, 2017), Gap (Thrifted, 2016)

I’m already experiencing the benefits of creating a small seasonal wardrobe. With only select pieces in front of me, it’s easy to see what never gets worn and slowly edit down to my truly beloved items. What stood out in my winter wardrobe was that most of my unworn items were pull-over sweaters, so it was time to assess and purge.

Most Worn

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I’ll start with my favorites. The turtleneck is a gorgeous color, merino wool, soft and very warm, a silhouette I love on it’s own that’s also perfect for layering. When I need to stay warm and want to reach for something basic, this is my choice every time. The navy blue and white crew neck sweater is very unique, cropped to a flattering length which balances out the volume of the funky oversized sleeves nicely, and is basically indestructible considering it’s got to be between 20-30 years old. I reach for this when I’m in the mood to throw on one of my husbands hoodies but don’t want to look like a total slob. Both of these sweaters were love at first sight when I saw them and have earned their space.

Never Worn

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Now on to the sweaters that never left the shelf. The top left was purchased back in 2015 when I first attempted to plan out my wardrobe. Of course I needed a soft neutral basic sweater to mix and match…except, as it turns out, I find it boring and have no interest in wearing it. Ever. The top right was the one wool sweater I owned last winter and I wore it no less than 3 times a week all season. It once earned it’s spot and I even took time to mend it, but it’s been replaced by the green turtleneck above and I’ve learned that winter where I live only requires one great wool sweater to get through. Both of these pieces will be passed along. As for the bottom two, I think they’re just more suited to spring or fall because the gray one is nearly transparent and I like wearing it with the sleeves rolled and pushed up to 3/4 length and the cream one is also a bit breezy without a tank underneath and I prefer the ease of wearing it on its own. I’ll tuck these back into the storage box until it warms up a little.

Personal Style Notes

The biggest take-away in terms of my personal style is that I like statement pieces and nothing too basic works as a stand alone item for me. I require just enough basics to keep the fun stuff functional, like denim and a few tees, but the bulk of what I own should fall into the latter category. As I continue wearing my winter wardrobe and begin sorting out my spring wardrobe, I’ll be looking for new ways to combine my statement pieces with each other, a la the Gucci, Prada, Fendi or any number of other designer shows.

I found it useful looking at a collection of items together in this way and might work my way through each category as the year goes on. My outwear collection, in particular, is so dialed in right now I’d love to share a current snapshot!

Colorblock Jacket

After languishing on my make list for well over a year, this jacket made its way into my closet and I finally managed to get some photos of it that aren’t mirror selfies! These are once again courtesy of my 3 year old (equipped with a tripod).

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The image below was my original inspiration for the color-blocking and I’m especially in love the fabric I found for the sleeves in the home decorating section of my local shop, Fabric Town. I was also surprised how close I was able to match the bottom portion with a designer knit from Mood (I got on a birthday trip in September of 2015…that’s how long I’ve had my eye on this!). The brown linen upper, gray linen binding and cream stretch jacquard I used for lining were all from JoAnn’s. My goal was a simply shaped statement jacket I could throw on over a variety of outfits and judging by how many evenings I’ve reached for it this week, I’d say I accomplished that. It’s neutral enough to go with most of my closet and colorful enough to make me feel fun and creative. Win win!

02-04-18 Jacket Inspiration

I used the same Butterick pattern (B6328) that I used for my “Used to be a Tablecloth” project since I knew it fit and was the basic shape I was after.  Starting with View C, size 8, I modified the pattern to match my inspiration photo and to accommodate my preferred construction method. Per the instructions, only the front portion is lined but in my opinion it was easier and more neatly finished to fully line the body. These are the changes I made to the pattern:

  • lengthened the front 4″
  • matched up the front and back side seam notches and lengthened the back to match the front (the recommended construction required different seam allowances on the front and back so they weren’t originally the same length)
  • measured up 11″ from the front and back hem to create the color blocking, cut and added seam allowance to both cut edges
  • measured up 9″ from the sleeve hem to create the color blocking, cut and added seam allowance to both cut edges
  • omitted the collar piece

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The construction was pretty straight forward. First, I sewed the color blocking together for the two front pieces, the back and the sleeves.  I chose to line only the body of the jacket so I could wear it for multiple seasons, so I took extra care to finish the exposed seams inside the sleeves.

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Out of laziness, I had off white thread in the bobbin and by sheer luck, the white stripe of the sleeve aligned exactly where the lace hem tape needed to be sewn down inside so the thread blends seamlessly into the outside of the sleeve…don’t think I could have planned that if I tried!

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The body and lining were constructed as usual and with the lining placed inside I used handmade binding to finish the armholes inside and the front and neckline on the outside. The outside binding was a design decision because I felt like it needed one last element to pull all the different fabrics together and the inside binding was just the best way I could think of to properly finish the raw edges without creating a full sleeve lining. I didn’t originally purchase the stretch jacquard with a lining in mind but I’m really happy with the look and definitely the feel of it.

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The one issue I ran into was with the pockets. The jacket was complete with in seam pockets, but even after tacking them down inside, they just made the jacket hang weird and added a ton of bulk at the widest part of my hip…not a good look for an already oversized jacket. There was a lot of unpicking to get back into the pockets to remove them but I’m glad I took the time. I’d thought to use patch pockets instead but was concerned that since the lower portion is a knit fabric I’d have issues with sagging there as well so I just left them out. Kind of a bummer, but with a preschooler in tow I generally have to carry more than I can fit in pockets anyway. This is my second project with failed pockets so I’ve got to get this figured out eventually.

02-04-18 The Jacket 3

As you can see by my living room, I love lots of color and texture so this jacket is 100% ME and feels amazing to wear!

We’ve had some very warm daytime weather the last two weeks which had me digging into my spring/summer storage box sooner than I’d planned, but I’m looking forward to going through the process I did for my winter wardrobe and preparing my next seasonal closet. Even though fashion week is currently showing Fall, I’ve collected my inspiration from the August Spring shows and hope to be back soon with that, plans for my next sewing project, and take-away’s from my first seasonal closet. I’d also like to note for the record that I haven’t stepped foot in a thrift store to look at clothes once this year…a true victory for me 🙂

Winter Wardrobe

Happy New Year!

I’d intended to write a post about my fall closet a while back, but our weather went haywire, 105 in October when boots and sweaters are typically making their appearance. I was so ready for fall, tired of my summer favorites and my closet was feeling jumbled and confusing with sun dresses and wool sweaters occupying the same space. I just wore whatever I could to stay cool…including my swimsuit, and just wasn’t inspired to put together a proper post. By the time the temps finally started to drop, the Thomas Fire started and our hot fall became chilly winter in a smoke filled blur. Getting dressed wasn’t feeling effortless and my closet needed attention. I’ve reorganized, sorted, purged and shopped so many times that I thought I was getting closer to a functional wardrobe, but here I was, again. They say dressing well is a skill that can be learned. I’m still learning and writing here is helping.

 Current Closet

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For the sake of starting fresh in the new year and having a quick reference for myself, I’ve compiled a list of approaches I’ve taken to wardrobe building since starting to apply critical thought to my closet back in 2014. I have…

  • created style concepts based on ideas of how I thought I wanted to dress and lists of things I needed to acquire based on my inspiration, rather than looking for the intersection between my inspiration and what was currently in my closet then realized months later that those items weren’t really me. (My sister scored a great $70 olive anorak that was going to be the supreme layering piece for multiple seasons. I wore it once.)
  • swung the other way and allowed total freedom to follow my muse in thrift stores and bought so many items my closet got confusing and I once again felt like I had nothing to wear for certain weather, certain activities or with that one thing I thought was too cute to pass up for $2.
  • accepted free clothing and fabric I never would have picked out myself and hoarded clothing and fabric I was certain I would make something with eventually. Upon closer inspection, none of those items remotely resemble or feel like anything I actually wear frequently. I went so far as to sew up a few of those fabrics only to end up with total wardrobe duds.
  • claimed I’m happy with a closet full of all season clothing, that something like Project 333 or rotating seasonally isn’t necessary where I live. This without giving either a real chance.
  • confidently declared that my plans were going to be perfect. Also, that I didn’t need rules or plans. Both have resulted in total fails.

What stood out to me in the list above is that I’d never attempted putting together a capsule wardrobe using ONLY items I already owned. So while we were stuck inside due to air quality during the fires, I perused lots of Project 333 articles and set out to do just that. First, I emptied my entire closet, sorted everything into seasonal piles and gave the closet a good cleaning. 20 items that made the cut in past purges that still hadn’t been worn went back to the thrift from which they came and spring/summer went into an under-bed box.

Then instead of adding back the pieces I know I love and calling it a day, which hasn’t always led to every garment being worn, I went piece by piece through the remaining pile and started to put together and photograph outfits. My goal was to come up with as many combinations for each piece as I could before hanging it back in the closet. With each new piece, I worked with what was in the closet first to make the most with fewer items, ending up with just over 40 items and 45 outfits without exhausting all the possibilities. A second under-bed box has additional cool weather pieces I can pull from if I get the urge to switch things up before warm weather returns for good. (it was 8o as I wrote this post, but it won’t last)

The Outfits

Here’s a sampling of 30 outfits using 40 pieces I already owned, including 7 pairs of shoes, 3 scarves, and 30 garments. I’ve worn many of these, getting dressed and feeling great with such ease for the last 3 weeks or so and packing for a weekend away was as simple as selecting a few pictures and pulling each piece. Boom, done! (these pics weren’t taken with the blog in mind or I would have cleared the clutter and that annoying little piece of trash…oh well)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (1)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (2)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (3)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (4)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (5)
2017-18 winter wardrobe (6)

I’m really anxious to create a full wardrobe inventory with purchase dates and prices, but this visual representation is a good start. Many of these pieces are accounted for on my shopping log, but the rest were bought 4+ years ago and will be missing some stats. As the year goes on, the plan is to work through these same steps for each new season so by this time next year my inventory should be complete with only occasional updates.

My final realization is that ZERO of my current winter pieces are handmade so I’m considering taking on the challenge of only adding or replacing worn out items with handmade pieces. I do have a jacket in process (that’s near complete AND successful) that I’ll be back soon to share, so that’s a start! And it’s not a concrete goal for this year, but I really want to learn to knit so hopefully my sweaters last until I can make that a priority.

Archana of To Universe, with Love urges everyone to start a personal style blog if they’ve ever had the urge and I can’t agree more. I have so much more clarity than I did when I started and feel safe saying this year will be a true turning point. Yes, looking back at old posts will sometimes make you cringe, but it’s so helpful when trying to avoid past mistakes and identify patterns or bad habits. It’s absolutely accomplished all of those things for me and I’m committed to checking in at least monthly in 2018.