July 9, 2007

Planning a wardrobe....

The question is: How do you plan a coordinated wardrobe that will work for you? (This is a long post, and has a lot of thinking for me, so be warned).

I have been thinking a lot about wardrobes and planning this weekend for two reasons. My sewing pattern review wardrobe is great, but it has a pretty major problem. The main print is not in my colours (or most of them are summer colours) and I am having a real problem coordinating the rest of my wardrobe with that print. The dress fits. I like it. But everything that really goes with the dress that isn't navy doesn't go with anything else I own... problem. The other thing that happened is that my oldest started early on the weekend whining about not having a wardrobe, too. Yes, I am going to end up making 3 wardrobes, hopefully before the end of this contest. But, we are going to do this wardrobe thing with a plan. And, she, too, will have to thin down to what works with her wardrobe.

Most wardrobe plans start with the sewing concept using one of two basic approaches. The first is the 2 suits approach: 2 suits of coordinating colours, 1 dress made of a print that goes with both suits, and at least 4 tops that coordinate. The second is the more tops than bottoms, and a jacket approach (4 bottoms, 6 tops and a jacket, which is basically what the sewing pattern review contest uses). It is really a more 'generic' version of the two suits idea. You can use the print to set everything else, you can pick your favourite colour. All kinds of things can make it work for you. But, most of the things I have seen start with SUITS. (And, if you pick a print that really doesn't go with everything else, you end up with a problem....)

Ok, I don't know about anyone else, but I don't live in Corporate America, and I don't wear suits. I wear casual separates. I wear outfits. I wear sweaters, with dress pants. I teach elementary school. I get covered in chalk, and handprints, and I have to have wash and wear clothing. I don't need suits, suit jackets make me look like I want to be a principal, or I am going for a job interview, and I just don't need to be there.

If I was totally starting from scratch, I would start with the question: What looks good on me? I don't need to start there, though, because I have been a member of Missus Smarty pants for about 4 months, and her suggestions really have worked for me. There is also: Mystyle.com that has great ideas for people who sew, if you ignore the fact that they are trying to sell you something, and the go to the mall and try it all on approach. But, I hate doing that because I spend hours, and nothing fits, so I come home and sew things that do. Thus, the reason why I sew.

So, I'm going to start wardrobe planning with step number 2: a needs assessment. The questions I am going to work with go like this: What do I like to wear? What would work with my lifestyle? And all the other clothing I have in my closet? What do I need right now? What do I reach for and not have in my closet? What is my best base colour?

So, to answer my own questions right now.
  1. What do I like to wear? Casual, separates, outfits. I love embroidered items, heirloom that is practical and washable. I like things a little different, a little fun.
  2. What would work with my lifestyle? Wash and wear, corporate casual. Nothing that requires dry cleaning! I need to look put together, but with a bit of a twist because I am always 'on stage' so to speak, with my job. I need to look like I can be trusted with other peoples' children!
  3. What would work with all my other clothing? My favouite outfits coordinate with a simple v-neck black sweater, open down the front, or a simple brown sweater, similar style. Mostly, I wear pull on shirts and dress pants with a sweater at work. Casual dressy, wash and wear. (If that sweater dies, I am in trouble!) I need clothes that will work into that in a summer way, that I can wear to the grocery store and not worry about meeting parents...
  4. What do I need right now? More summer type clothing, capris, shorts, summer dresses. Clothes that will work into the fall easily, when it is hot and I have to teach in the hot portables. Tank tops, short sleeve tops, cotton pants, pull on clothes that coordinate totally.
  5. What do I reach for in my closet and not have? A sweater that coordinates with my summer wardrobe, a jean jacket, a fleece jacket/sweater in a colour that goes with my stuff, a raincoat that works with my wardrobe.
  6. What is my best base colour? Black, with lots of colours to go with it. Think rainbow. Clear and bright.
  7. What would my second colour be to go with this? This is where I actually get stuck with my sewing. I keep thinking black, navy, and pale blue, but then there is brown, rose, cream, white, and pink.... For the sake of this exercise, and since we spent all weekend sorting fabric, I think I am going to use navy and aqua blue as my base colours (since I have about 6 coordinating fabrics of aqua blue...), and pink and yellow knit for tops/contrast. I could also do a complete wardrobe in black, but I want to lighten things up for the summer, or in brown (same deal as black). I may go back in August, and review the brown thing, though, since I really do have a lot of things that go with brown already in my wardrobe.

Now, for the fun part: the stash/style brainstorm. Eventually, my goal is to have a sewing plan for 4 bottoms, 6 or more tops, 1 or 2 jackets to go with it all. I keep thinking that 6 bottoms, 11 tops and 2 jackets would be more realistic for my sewing, but not everyone needs to go there. That is a lot of sewing. I'm going to sort this by category, and in each category ask what I would like to wear, what I need to add to my current wardrobe to make it work, and what styles appeal to me (thinking of my pattern stash, and of what I have learned from Mystyle.com and Missus Smarty pants about what works well on my body.)

What do I want to wear? What do I need to make my wardrobe work right now? What styles am I missing that are current, or would extend my wardrobe?

  • Jackets: I need to have a sweater style jacket, and a raincoat that is more dressy in my wardrobe, and I wouldn't mind a jean jacket, too. I also need some kind of fleece jacket with a center zipper. This will need some more thought. I could make all four, but that seems like overkill. Everything needs to open down the front totally for my jackets.
  • Tops: I want some more casual styled tops, with and without sleeves. Maybe some tops from New Look 6515, some simple t shirt tops with some embroidery on the front, and a princess style shirt or two. Something slightly more dressy than just tank tops, but still washable, and works with what I already have. Definitely short sleeves, or sleeveless. I could also really play with the tank top and make a million different styles of tank top, with all kinds of interesting heirloom type details. There is the one pattern, many looks challenge on sewing pattern reivew, and I drew about 18 styles of tank top this weekend. This may turn into the 11 tops plan...
  • Pants: In the non-wardrobe category, I absolutely need to replace my black dress pants and my brown dress pants since I outgrew them. I have two new TNT patterns from Burda. Jeans style dress pants, since I have a pattern that works well, and some boot cut dress pants style pants. Maybe pull on style Capri's. I really need a couple of pairs of shorts, but I don't want the totally slouchy around the house style shorts that I have worn the past couple of summers. I think I want something more dressy. I also think I would like a pair of Capri's that have some details on the bottom hems, either embroidery or beading or trim. Something more interesting that just 'hems'.
  • Skirts: I don't wear a lot of skirts in the summer, but I think I would like to have a bias cut pull on A-line skirt, with the lingerie elastic waist band. I have some blue print that would work for this, I think, and it would be a good transition piece. I think I need to make some 'save the thighs' underwear, if I want to make/wear skirts. Not that I don't have the fabric and the patterns in the basement for that plan from about 2 years ago to do that, but I haven't yet.
  • Dresses: Sheath style dress with a v-neck, darts front and back, either A line, or straight, knee length. Sleeveless or short sleeves. Pull on knit, A line dress, scoop hem, short sleeves (this one I have the pattern, the concept and the fabric, so this will likely get done first). I also keep thinking that a shirt dress with buttons down the front, with gathers at the center between the bust, would be a fun transition piece. I would have to really plan this one, and draft it for myself, though.

I'm going to work from my stash here. I have to work from my stash, since it would probably clothe a small army. My problem, here, is really too many ideas, way too much fabric that could make it work, and I could actually make it all. If I simplify, though....Who am I kidding? I could sew all my ideas and not even make a dent in my stash....I also really think in outfits, not coordinates. I dress in outfits. It is nice when the outfits can mix and match, but really, outfits are how my brain works.

Another thing I probably should consider is a focal point or theme. Often, people will create or purchase a focal point piece (a great jacket, an embroidered top, for example) and then work their wardrobe around that. Or, they will pick a theme: elephants, flowers, the sailor suit look, safari in the city, and work around that. It creates unity, and allows for some experimentation in a coordinated manner. I am waffling on theme, here. My original plan was summer roses. Maybe I could keep that plan, and work more into the blues. So, a plan. (Hahahaha. My children are laughing at this, since they know unless I sew it in a week, it will morph many times beyond what I plan...)

  • Jacket 1: jean jacket, with 3/4 sleeves, and embroidery; made from navy stretch denim
  • Jacket 2: sweater style jacket, aqua knit, matching pull on Capri's, white embroidery to match Capri's
  • bottom 1: dark navy stretch jean style Capri's, with matching embroidery to the jean jacket on hems, TNT Burda pattern
  • bottom 2: aqua blue jean style Capri's, with white embroidery, TNT Burda pattern
  • bottom 3: pull on a line skirt, with lingerie elastic waist, lined
  • bottom 4: ?shorts...
  • top 1: top view A, NL6515, matching the pull on skirt
  • top 2: pink tank top with heirloom style sewing/white lace, self drafted pattern, TNT
  • top 3: yellow knit t-shirt, with embroidery, self drafted pattern, short sleeves
  • top 4: aqua knit t-shirt, with embroidery, self drafted pattern, short sleeves
  • top 5: white t shirt, with embroidery, self drafted pattern, 3/4 sleeves
  • top 6: ? princess line top shirt, pink, with heirloom details, self drafted shirt, cap sleeve or 3/4 sleeve
  • dress 1: aqua blue knit dress, short sleeves, a line skirt, pull on style
  • dress 2: navy knit dress, with interest around the neck...
  • dress 3: blue shirtwaist dress, medium blue colour...

Or at least, that is the plan of the moment....

No comments: