Category Archives: personal style journal

Slow Fashion October Week 2: What’s in your closet?

Hey there! It’s now November but our slow wardrobes aren’t made in a month so I’m back with a recap of the week two prompts from Slow Fashion October. I’m still exploring the #slowfashionoctober IG feed and links as well. There’s just so much to see and read and I don’t want to miss a thing! I’ve already discovered (and binge read) a few new to me blogs. So many creative individuals out there making amazing things.

Week 2 is was all about cleaning out our closets and considering what’s in there. Since October finally starts to feel more like fall where I live, I was already in the midst of transitioning my closet so this prompt was timely. I’ve been testing out seasonal capsules for about a year now, so heading back into fall this time around has been the easiest transition to date. After tracking my wears last year and clearing out what didn’t serve me at the end of the season, I was excited to pull out a box full of favorites that I was anxious to wear, and the handful of items I couldn’t let go of were easier to part with after some time had passed. Here’s a snapshot of my closet today. I’m also participating in my first 10×10 challenge, so those pieces (along with my Mary Poppins costume) are hung on the right side at the moment, but this is my whole wardrobe, minus the very summery items I packed away until next year.

10-28-18 Fall 2018 Closet

What is the oldest or most treasured thing in your closet? I feel like I’ve finally edited my closet to a place where I treasure many things, but I’m really in love with these pieces. They’ve all been found in thrift shops for cheap and appear (from the looks of the tags inside) to have lived in some woman’s closet for quite some time before making their way there.

10-28-18 treasured pieces

What is the item you wear the most? Why? A pair of medium wash Lucky Brand jeans and a white v-neck tee shirt because they give all my statement pieces a foundation and are comfortable for my daily life.

Are there any “investment pieces?” How did they work out? Not really. Maybe the Frye boots I bought 8 years ago that have only gotten better with age.

Does anything still have the tags on it? Why? Nope.

How much is handmade, hand-me-down or has some other personal meaning? I have four handmade pieces in my current closet and a handful of summer tanks packed away for next year. About 90% is from thrift stores and about 1/3 of those are special pieces in that they’re old, unique, good quality and feel like me. I still have second hand fast fashion that I hope to replace with handmade or higher quality vintage as they wear out, but considering I was starting from scratch 4 years ago after leaving work and becoming a mom, I’m happy with the state of things.

How does what’s in your closet align with the mood board you made about how you would actually like to dress? In what ways are they the same/different? Better than ever before! I’ve been thoughtful about my wardrobe for a while now and I’m finally experiencing the fruits of my labor. There are pieces missing, but I have some sewing patterns and fabrics already lined up that will fill gaps and create more versatility with what I already have and love.

How do the colors align with the color palette  you made? Pretty well, I think, and it’s a great feeling because this didn’t used to be the case at all. I’m getting better at creating realistic mood boards and editing my purchases and it’s all coming together.

For reference, here’s a side by side of my week 1 mood board and current closet.

10-28-18 mood board and closet

How do your clothes align with your lifestyle and climate? For the most part, really well. I live in a mild climate in southern California where a lot of my clothing can be worn for Fall, Winter and Spring and that’s the portion of my wardrobe represented by my mood board and in my closet right now. Where I need some work is my summer wardrobe because it gets pretty hot and we spend lots of time at the beach. I’m already brainstorming what types of garments I can create that will be functional but still feel like me. This past summer I just grabbed a couple tee shirts and a pair of denim cut offs from the thrift and wore them on repeat. It worked, but when the first leaf fell they were boxed up because I was so over it!

What percentage of your closet feel like YOU? Considering what I just said about my summer wardrobe, if I divide by 4 seasons, I guess 75%. I’m pretty happy with that because I’ve got 9 months to prepare for next summer…

Advertisements

Slow Fashion October Week 1: What’s Your Look?

Slow Fashion October just wrapped up (as I finally get around to posting this) and in addition to creating a space to discover inspiring new makers and slow style bloggers to connect with, the weekly prompts got everyone to consider their style and slow wardrobes and discuss their thoughts and process…my jam!

Week 1 posed the question What’s Your Look? and begins with a mood board. Don’t have to ask me twice! Sometimes I feel like I spend more time making mood boards than actually sewing, but each one is edited a little closer to perfection than the last, more and more images are carrying over from one to the next, and my thrift store, pattern and fabric purchases are resulting in a lot less fails so it’s feeling like a productive exercise.

SFO2018-mood-board

What’s the difference between what you admire and what actually feels like “YOU”?As a lover of the art of fashion, I admire so many things I’d never have a reason or desire to wear in real life. I recently split my Pinterest boards up into ‘Fashion‘ and ‘Curated Closet‘ with categories for seasons, accessories and hairstyles and it’s been a real game changer. I’m getting better about using my Curated Closet boards to gather inspiration that combines a statement piece I could actually see myself making with neutral cotton basics I already own that suit my day to day life. Then my fashion board can be a total free for all for any beautiful thing I may want to reference again at some point.

How has your style evolved? In high school (mid 90’s) I went through look after look, with total dedication. Like all trendy, hippie, grunge, goth, punk, vintage, preppy…and basically hit the thrift stores to stock my wardrobe each time I wanted to try a new style. Eventually I’d amassed an enormous amount of clothing and began juxtaposing different looks to make it my own. As the years went on, I continued experimenting and buying lots of clothing but I found my groove with just putting together things I liked in a way that could no longer be defined by one style category. In my late 20’s, there was a period of time I felt like I lost my style identity working in a corporate office, but after 4 years home with my son I’m coming back to my naturally eclectic way of dressing. In fact, a lot of current closet favorites are perfected grown up versions of looks I tried in high school!

Do you have a color palette? Yes and no. White, cream, mustard, sage/olive/army green, shades of indigo and gray dominate but I love color, so with some exceptions, I won’t rule colors out completely. My wardrobe definitely doesn’t fit into a pretty collage where everything matches everything else, but it’s improving in time and there’s a lot of opportunity to create unexpected color combinations which is something I really enjoy.

Whose style inspires you? Do you you have a muse or icon? I have many! I don’t aim to emulate them, I’m just inspired by women with their own distinct looks to always stay true to mine. Chloe Sevigny coming on the scene in the 90’s was a real defining moment for me. Suddenly, it was not only OK that my clothing all came from thrift stores and I didn’t dress like anyone else at school, it might actually be considered stylish!

Is there a brand you’re always drawn to, for their clothes and/or how they put them together? Why? Right now, Gucci. In this article about Alessandro Michele, his first collection was described as “eclectic and vibrant pieces jumbled together in a colorful melange of vintage and new.” That’s always been my goal for my own wardrobe, albeit in a much subtler (and less expensive) way. It reminds me of how a dear friend in fashion school used to call my style vintage thrift store revival. There’s a wealth of color combinations, layering, styling and embellishment ideas I can translate to my own clothes and sewing projects in ways that fit into my world.

What shapes and styles of garments work best for you, your life and your body? Casual but well tailored pants with a mid-high rise, softly structured blouses and sweaters, comfy cotton basics and shoes that can be worn anywhere. My life is very casual, but I love getting dressed, so I like to balance a more dressed up statement piece with basics to keep my look put together without being too “done.”

What are your clothing pet peeves? I’m not sure if it’s age or motherhood since these things happened simultaneously, but I no longer have tolerance for anything fussy. If it slides up or down, squeezes too tight, requires adjusting in order to sit down or when standing back up, anything off the shoulder. I used to live in shelf bra cami’s under everything and low rise pants and can’t stand the thought of those items anymore!

What is your favorite garment or outfit (now or always) and why? I’ve always had a thing for granny blouses, and now I love to update my thrift scores with buttons of my choice to make them perfect for me. A loosely tailored granny blouse with a comfy bralette underneath, perfectly fitted cone denim skinny jeans and moccasins is my current go to look that feels just right every time.

What is the image you would like to project with your clothing? I read somewhere that you can’t tell if a french woman is a mother unless she’s holding a baby and that really spoke to me. Where I live, a “momiform” of leggings and athleisure is totally acceptable but just doesn’t feel like me. Reading that somehow gave me permission to dress myself how I wanted even if my day will be spent at the playground surrounded by Lululemon! I aim to be organized, creative and pulled together every day and that’s how my clothes make me feel.

Can you describe your style in five adjectives? Creative, Natural, Classic, Eclectic, Feminine

What showed up in your mood board that surprised you? The pink suit! I worked in a corporate office for 13 years, eventually learning to dress the part, and when I left to be a stay at home mom I couldn’t clear those clothes out of my closet fast enough. After 4 years, I’m finding myself attracted to more polished clothing again, but with a creative twist of course. I have a pattern that includes pants and a jacket that I’m considering sewing in a fun color to create the option of wearing them together or separately with other things I own and I’m pretty excited about it.

What’s an example of something you own and love (had to have!) but never wear, and why not? There is one item in my closet right now. I bought it from a thrift store for $1 a few years ago and just haven’t been able to part with it even though it gets no love. It’s a cropped crochet tank that I strictly placed in the summer category and never found the right layering piece for. Coincidentally, just a couple week ago, an image popped up in my Pinterest feed layering a beaded piece of the same color and shape over a tailored suit jacket and I ran straight to my closet and tried on my crochet version over a long sleeve button down blouse…LOVE! Thankfully I wasn’t too quick to discard it just because it didn’t get wear because I knew I truly loved it and trusted it would eventually work somehow.

Did you participate in Slow Fashion October? It’s my favorite event of the year! I’ll be back with weeks 2-4 and simultaneously I tried out my first 10×10 challenge this month so I’ll have more on that as well. I’m loving the chance to sit in a quiet house with a hot cup of coffee to write here more often now that kiddo’s in preschool.

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!

IMG_8443.jpg

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

IMG_8498.jpg

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

IMG_8506.jpg

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

IMG_8495.jpg

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

IMG_8501.jpg

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

IMG_8492.jpg

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

IMG_8500.jpgIMG_8491.jpg

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

IMG_8493.jpg

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

IMG_8489.jpg

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

IMG_8503.jpg

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

IMG_8499.jpg

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

IMG_8508.jpg

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

From the Runway

IMG_8583.jpg

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!

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

05-26-16 full closet

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.

Slow style year 2.png

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

img_5764-e1507151501939.jpg

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?

IMG_5769

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…

Closet Goals

I read a variety of style blogs that run the gamut from extreme minimalism to careless over consumption and now that I’ve declared this space a personal style blog, I thought I’d share where I stand on this spectrum…or at least just talk to myself about my current thoughts on the subject. Over the years, I’ve been influenced by it all and gone from too much shopping, not enough planning, closet full of nothing to wear to restricting shopping, excessive planning and a tiny closet that started to wear out and bore me way too quickly. At this point, every time I flip to this image in my inspiration notebook, all I can think is closet goals!

IMG_5479

There are a lot of pieces in there. When the heck do you use ALL of those bags?! But you know what? To me, it looks like a closet filled with special items collected over time that are truly cherished, well cared for and loved. I imagine it belongs to a woman with a strong sense of her own style, who sees dressing as an art and has fun choosing an outfit each day.

As I sew, dig through charity stores and shop for vintage, these are my goals.

I’m dedicated to an ethical wardrobe and learning more about sustainability every day. I’m on board with slowly and thoughtfully adding new things. But minimal? I don’t really think so. I just love clothes, fashion design and the thrill of the hunt! Digging through the large donation thrift shops and finding that vintage treasure someone cleared out of an attic, 100% silk, wool, or cashmere on the cheap, testing out a trend I’m not sure about for $3 …yes, please! Continuing to queue up sewing projects because I enjoy learning new skills and creating things? Of course.

The idea of capsule wardrobes is helping me work out the colors and pieces that make up my personal list of essentials, giving me a more solid foundation to build upon but I’m approaching the sweet spot where I can just add things I love while keeping it functional. In my climate, most of my clothes can be used year round so, with a few exceptions, packing away seasonal clothes isn’t necessary. I love an eclectic mix of things I find beautiful to combine in all different ways accessible in my closet at all times. Based on how quickly I got tired of my very minimal closet, I think it will be perfect to have enough items that it takes 3 or 4 weeks to cycle through all my favorites so they last longer and I don’t burn out on wearing them.

IMG_5438

A while back, I would have talked myself out of this clutch because it’s not something I’ll use every day. Now I’m okay with owning something special for date nights, even if I only get to use it twice a month. I’d had the idea of what I wanted in my mind for a while, so when I spotted it in a vintage shop (although, is 90’s vintage? I was in high school in the 90’s…doesn’t add up!) on vacation for $12 I felt good about taking it home. Okay, I actually walked away and had a beer down the street because it was navy and not black, but then I decided I still loved it and went back for it. Thoughtful and spontaneous!

All my chatter has me curious to hear from you. How often do you feel you should wear something for it to earn it’s space in your wardrobe? Every month? Every week? What are your thoughts on owning more than necessary if everything is mostly second hand or handmade and the rest ethical? My perspective has been all over the map the last few years but for the moment it’s a relief to loosen up the reigns. I’m hoping I’ve learned enough that I can just enjoy wardrobe building for the fun creative process it can be without falling back into old patterns and making lots of mistakes. And I suppose I can go easy on myself if I thrift something that isn’t for life…back to the thrift shop it can go right?

Cut & Paste

IMG_5241

I have to believe that anyone into personal style who also loves to sew has the box of clothing items they just can’t seem to part with because you know you could [fill in the blank] and it would be perfect! My issue with said box is it basically turns into a black hole where ideas go to die and clothes never see the light of day. For this reason, I decided to put ALL my clothing into my closet and move things I’d worn to one end as I went. After a couple months, I reviewed my wardrobe board and did a (dare I say) final sort of items into 3 categories:

  • love = hang back in the closet
  • meh = donate/sell
  • love but don’t wear because xyz = project box

Keeping the love but don’t wear items in my closet was only complicating getting dressed, obviously, so I decided to snap a quick picture of each piece before returning them to the black hole. Next I used Photoshop Elements to create 8 1/2 x 11″ layouts, printed and cut them out to glue into my wardrobe/sewing journal.

IMG_5182

Now I can flip through my journal when I’m feeling the urge to shop and prioritize a project. Drawing in some grids gives me a clean space for jotting down notes for each. Many need mending, fit alterations, dyeing, or restyling, and others I’d like to knock off the pattern or sew/purchase a new item to go with it. I do realize I could have completed some mending in the time I used to play cut and paste, but there’s 33 projects so in the long run I feel it’s worth the couple hours to keep them all on my radar and moving forward.

IMG_5268

IMG_5269

IMG_5270

IMG_5271

IMG_5272IMG_5273

I made it look so fun, my kiddo immediately asked for some clothes for his own project and we spent the best Saturday morning creating together!

IMG_5247

I’m so grateful for the online sewing and personal style community. Though I’ve been doing things like this for as long as I can remember, I now know I’m not a total weirdo and others out there share my obsession interests!

Next on the agenda is some actual time at the sewing machine. I still have #2017makenine to finish and one of those projects has been cut and on my table for longer than I’d care to admit…