Author Archives: Kaci Ferguson

About Kaci Ferguson

I have a passion for slow fashion, personal style and sewing/curating the wardrobe of my dreams.

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…

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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

02-08-18 sweater collage

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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02-08-18 spring or fall

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).

02-04-18 The Jacket 1

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.

Slow Style: 2nd Year Reflections

September marked the end of my second year committed to slow fashion, so over the weekend I took some time to look back at my sewing projects, shopping log, original commitment and one year review.  With it being time to consider my wardrobe for the upcoming fall/winter season and Slow Fashion October, it’s the perfect time to gain fresh perspective, set new style and sewing goals and make a new commitment as I head into year 3.

Where I started

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My closet one year ago

I ended my first year in September of 2016 feeling accomplished. I was happy with my clothes, I’d cut my shopping way down and sewn 6 new garments for myself. I’d created a beautiful cohesive mood board to help guide future projects and I was feeling inspired to focus more time and energy on slow stitch and natural dyes, bringing elements of my artwork into my closet. My goal was to use materials I had on hand and work on one project each month. Rules were abandoned because where to shop had become second nature.

“This year is simply about making. Experimenting. Creating mindfully.”    – I said

That’s not exactly how I’d summarize the last 12 months and I’m hopeful that writing this all out will lead to a more focused year three.

What I Bought

I’ve been logging all my clothing purchases since September of 2015, along with where I bought them and how much I spent.  At the end of year one, I was surprised to see that I’d bought 27 things in 12 months, 6 new and 21 used. This year I was floored when I tallied up a total of 68! I’m about to attempt justifying this number by breaking it down in more detail. Spoiler alert: It can’t be justified. Mistakes were made.

Brand New // 11 pieces // $380 total

I can at least say that great thought went into the new purchases and I don’t consider any of them to be mistakes. The corduroy pants, moccasins and athletic wear were purchased from companies I felt good about supporting and they’re durable items that suit my lifestyle, get lots of use and replaced pieces that were so worn out I couldn’t even donate them. The harem style pants were especially versatile, frequently taking me from a typical day of SAHM life to a family friday night out seamlessly, particularly in the combination below.

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Company Missions:   Manitobah  //  Patagonia  //  Prana

A swimsuit from Target and 5 bra’s from Macy’s make up the rest of the new purchases. I allowed these guilt free since I don’t know how to make them yet and the ethical brands I looked at just didn’t have what I wanted at a price point I could justify as a stay at home mom with a limited amount of savings. I wore the last ones until they were trash and will do the same with these. Sometimes that just has to be enough, and I’m okay with that.

Second Hand // 57 pieces // $180 total

The used items, not pictured here because of the ridiculous number, is where I should have done a better job editing. I had so many sewing fails this year that I just wasn’t adding new things to my rotation and my impatience led to a few trips where I picked up way too many pieces at once. Generally, I dig through thrift shops and take away one new treasure or just pick up clothes for the kiddo who’s constantly outgrowing things. I need to get back to that place. In reviewing the list, I determined I spent $67 on 18 second hand items which I either never wear or have already donated back to the thrift store…not cool. There were plenty of great finds that I wore a lot and continue to wear, so I’m trying to stop thinking of how I could have spent the wasted money and just let it be another lesson.

What I Made

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I was feeling disappointed in myself when I first started to outline this post because I didn’t think I’d gotten much sewing done, but looking back I did work on 13 projects. Unfortunately, only 4 are in my closet and wearable, one of which was not even technically handmade but rather thrifted and mended. Two were thrifted and completely restyled and the dress was made from scratch. I can at least say I met my goal of working on 1 project per month and these are some of my favorite things.

Part of the issue was just the learning curve involved with making clothing. Combine that with patterns I bought on impulse just because there was a sale and fabric in my stash I thought I could use and it was a recipe for disaster. Even if they’d all turned out wearable, I’m fairly certain that the lack of planning behind each one would have led to total wardrobe duds. It’s no coincidence that after taking a closer look at the failures, my #2017makenine line up and subsequent projects were much more successful.

At the rate I’ve been going, and with just 3 months left, I’m not sure I’ll complete all the projects on that list, but I have one in process at the moment and so far it seems to be going well.

What I Learned

Shopping

Year 1 didn’t actually undo my bad habits like I thought it had. Clearly, based on the number of items I bought, I still need a more strict set of guidelines for shopping, even if it is second-hand. In addition to the thrifting, I quickly realized without mindfulness, it’s easy to transfer bad shopping habits from clothes to sewing patterns or fabric. I’ll definitely be adding these purchases to the shopping log from now on…not sure why I didn’t from the get go.

Sewing

I need to move beyond high school home economics skills to master garment construction and fitting before I can make my Allessandro Michele for Gucci dreams come true. In order to accomplish this, I’ve forced myself to set aside the guilt that comes from creating waste so I can just sew through bolts of muslin to learn my craft and gain the confidence required to cut into an expensive piece of fine fabric and know I won’t be throwing my money down the drain. I’ve already picked up my first bolt.

Owning a Fabric Stash

My fabric stash was mostly useless. Adorable vintage fabrics I’d thrifted never felt like ‘me’ when I’d dig through the bin to find something for a project. Some of my favorite’s are small pieces that need to be one element in a specific design while the remaining fabric will need to be purchased. Even pieces I bought brand new and excitedly prewashed in preparation for a project didn’t get used because they were either the wrong size, color or material for what I eventually wanted to make.

Based on this article I found while google searching ‘KonMari for artists’ I won’t be stashing fabric without a plan anymore. It seems pretty obvious, but I was 20 years deep in the “just in case” mentality with enough “imaginary work” to last a lifetime if I had no other obligations. The article is a good read for creatives on the path to simplicity. My overstuffed creative space is getting closer and closer to a simple little sewing corner with no extra stuff hanging around. I plan on using this method moving forward:

Project Idea -> Commitment -> Deadline -> Materials Hunt

Personal Style  & Wardrobe Planning

The biggest mistake I made was confusing creative inspiration with my personal style. I created this mood board thinking it would guide my sewing and shopping until I had my ideal wardrobe, but as my closet began to align with this vision, I started to crave more color, variety and vintage flair. This mood board inspired me to create, but doesn’t represent my forever closet.

SS Year 2 Mood Board

Removing all of my art related content from this blog and compartmentalizing my separate interests helped me come to this conclusion, and reaffirmed my decision to separate the two. It’s obvious to me now why so many designers have uniforms. Not every idea belongs in my own everyday working wardrobe. They can simply be channelled into individual bodies of work while my personal style remains separate. Of course, there will be some overlap at times, but in hindsight, I see where I went wrong. The fact that when I created this mood board the dominant color of blue was mostly non-existent in my current closet should have raised a red flag. I love some of the blue pieces I added, but this whole wabi sabi theme I was so drawn to when creating this collage just isn’t what I’m actually wanting to wear every day.

Maybe I should just buy a black turtleneck and call it a day…I kid…sorta?

What’s next?

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Well, a few weeks ago I turned 37, and in addition to realizing I’ve been working towards an aesthtetic that wasn’t totally me, I suddenly felt like half my closet should belong to a teenager. I treated myself to a new book, The Curated Closet, created a pin board called 37 to gather new wardrobe inspiration and  promptly took that inspiration thrifting and scooped up 9 new pieces to add to my wardrobe…yeah, the exact thing I was just saying was a big mistake I made earlier this year!

So, next on the agenda is no shopping for a while. No clothes. No patterns. No fabric. I’m starting to work through some of the exercises in the book in order to recalibrate and be sure I’m heading in the right direction with any new additions.

Once I’ve worked out a list of any gaps, I’ll select my next sewing project and allow the occasional thrift shop visit. I realize I’m completely contradicting what I said in this post in terms of loosening the reigns on shopping, but I wrote that before assessing my year of shopping and I guess either I wasn’t being honest with myself or perhaps had just completely forgotten how much I’d really acquired. Can I still blame mommy brain at almost 3 1/2?

A New Commitment / Note to self:

    1. Forget perfectly cohesive visual representations of your style and keep a small file of whatever you truly love (and really wear!). Figure out how it works together.
    2. Keep a well thought out and prioritized list of items to sew and/or purchase over time. Take it slow!
    3. Practice sewing. Practice pattern drafting. Do the work. Master your craft.
    4. Buy second-hand. No poor quality items. No temporary filler items. No items to upcycle unless you’re shopping for a specific planned project.
    5. Support socially / environmentally ethical companies when you must buy new.

 

I think dedicating this space to slow fashion, personal style and sewing will keep me more focused on my goals so I don’t find myself so far off track again. At the same time I have to laugh at how I’m beating myself up over such little mistakes when just 5 years ago I was buying brand new clothes every week without a second thought. In the big scheme of things it’s just second hand clothes, but I am determined to get this whole wardrobe thing figured out so change is more of a slow evolution than periodic overhaul. Let’s see what year 3 brings…