Tag Archive | wardrobe architect

Wardrobe Architecting at a Standstill

I’ve been rather lax on the Wardrobe Architecting. I’m having a slight personal reservation as to the way it’s going. It’s not a problem with the whole WA thing, or anything like that, it’s just that I wasn’t ever intending to create a Capsule Wardrobe, simply to rationalise what I’ve got available to wear and to use that as a realistic guide to what clothing I would find most useful to make.

I don’t want to feel myself getting stuck in a loop of “I know what I like and I like what I know”, which is the route to sartorial stagnation. I’m not a wild and crazy dresser, but I do like to be open to different styles of clothing. A capsule wardrobe feels limiting, whereas the joy of sewing for myself is that there are NO limits.

It has been a very useful series for me in that way, so far. In terms of the WA benefits so far, I do feel I’m much better at recognising the clothing that I *know* will work for me, my Definite Winners, which is a good thing. Also, it has encouraged me to be more thoughtful about trying things which are not in the category of Definite Winners, so that I don’t waste money and time on clothing choices I will regret. That has definitely helped me this year.

So I’m still reading the Coletterie posts carefully. But for now, I’m not intending to put into practice any of the exercises or processes at this stage of the Wardrobe Architect. It may be that the direction will shift again and it will be more in tune with what I want to get 0ut of it. In the meantime, it’s still interesting to see what other people are doing with the project.

Wardrobe Architect #5 – Colour!

I’ve combined weeks 5 & 6 of the Wardrobe Architect.

I’m slightly regretting that I threw away my 15 year old Colour Analysis swatches, because that would really have made these two weeks so much easier. I know “my” colours well enough that I don’t need those swatches, but it would have been a piece of cake to scan those into my puter to come up with the colour palette graphics!

The first part of the exercise, in week 5 was to identify one’s colour palette. This is mine.

My colour palette

My colour palette

I don’t necessarily wear all those colours, I’m strong on black, and I add colour with a range of pinks & purples, or turquoises & teals. There’s very little blue in my wardrobe, and very little red, but  I do wear those colours occasionally. The main colours that are missing are yellows and oranges. I have sallow skin, and those warm yellow-y colours just kill me. In theory I can take a pastel lemon yellow (the kind of yellow you knit baby clothes in when you don’t want to make assumptions about whether it will be born a girl or a boy!), but I’ve never adopted this, and it would only ever be an accent colour, because large blocks of any pale colour make me look vast. In any case I prefer bold strong colours. Pastels have never really done it for me.

Week 6 is about arranging or organising your palette into Neutrals, Near Neutrals, Statement Colours and Metallics. This is where it becomes clear that I’m all about the big bold colours! The true neutrals were your standards: black, greys, navy, brown (has to be a chocolate brown, not too red), camel, white. I don’t tend to wear cream or ivory much, certainly not near my face. If I’m going pale, then it would be white, or camel, or one of the pastels from my statement colours. Overwhelmingly, though, the neutral I wear the most is black.

The Near Neutrals were the darkest versions of the bright colours that I wear- aubergine, deep purple, forest green. I figured that I could happily lump my Neutrals and Nears together, because there’s hardly a lick of difference between them.

My Neutrals

My Neutrals and Near Neutrals

My Statement colours are Everything Else. Mostly bright, jewel-toned and cool:

  • Blues – French navy, royal blue (shades of my first school uniform!), turquoise.
  • Greens – pine green, emerald, teal, mint and chartreuse. Chartreuse is the one colour I am happy to wear that never featured in my Colour Analysis swatch. In theory it shouldn’t work on me, because it’s a yellow green, but I do love it, and it works with the rest of my wardrobe, so it’s in here. Looking at all those colours together, I suppose you could say that the chartreuse is my version of yellow, in that it’s a strongly blue-toned yellow!
  • Reds – scarlet and blue-toned reds, as I mentioned above, I avoid the more orange versions.
  • Pink – again I tend towards the blue-toned pinks, I tend to avoid the warm peachy tones. But fuchsia, magenta, rose, orchid, all work for me. Maybe I was Barbie in a former life?
  • Purple – I love purple! From deep Imperial purple to Lavender, I’d happily wear them all. 
My Statement Colours

My Statement Colours

And finally, the Metallics. I used to only consider silver tones, but I’ve expanded towards the paler tones of gold.

Silver and Gold

Silver and Gold

Now I’m waiting to see where the Wardrobe Architect takes us next.

In terms of my own wardrobe cleansing, I’ve ditched those clothes that didn’t fit into my colours. I have a tendency to keep things that people give me, even when what they’ve given me isn’t what I would choose for myself, so I’ve tried to be very firm with myself. If something doesn’t fit in with what I’ve already got, if it’s a colour orphan, then it had to go in the charity bag.

I’ve now managed to do both sides of the wardrobe, and it’s made me realise that I really don’t have enough woven tops. All my knit tops are in a chest of drawers, and I’m being a bit cowardly and not attacking that one just yet. I buy a lot of Primark’s stretchy tops, because they’re colourful (or black, which as I’ve said is my commonest neutral), and they’re very useful for layering, and for teaching dance in, so I’ve got a LOT of them, and facing up to exactly how many may be a bit embarrassing. So my aim to make a ton of Renfrews might be unnecessary, and I should perhaps aim more for the wovens. So the wardrobe analysis is helpful for decision-making purposes.

Sewing of the leopard chiffon top has totally stalled. It’s sitting there, looking mournful at me, and even though I know that if I just have another good go at it, it will come together, I just haven’t got the will at the moment. Let’s see how the weekend takes me…

Wardrobe Architect #4 – imaginary shopping

Arrrggghhhh!!!! I’m really struggling with the WA this week. We’re supposed to put together outfits based on our answers to last week’s exercise on silhouettes. This post is going to tell you more about me than about the clothing I love.

Ploughing through all those online images to try and find one or two that fit what I’ve got in my head is Freaking. Me. The heck. Out.

I hate shopping. I do believe I’ve mentioned this before. That includes online shopping. And shopping for totally imaginary purposes is no better. However I try to narrow down my search, however I’m refining my descriptions, the internet just puts a whole load of clothes in front of me that won’t work for me, which is very much my personal experience of shopping in real life. It makes me frustrated and stressed.

I hate shopping

Even the clothes that I know would work on me don’t look right when I put them together in a collage because they’re totally in the wrong proportions for me, since they’re advertising photos, and therefore don’t depict my size or shape. I can create outfits on Polyvore to my heart’s content, but they don’t make me think of *me*. They have no relationship to me.

This experience is making me feel bad about myself, and making me feel very stressed.

I’m not particularly a visual person, I’ve always been more about the words than the pictures. Maybe other people are having a ball working on those images, but personally I don’t need to choose online pictures to illustrate what I think. It’s enough that I’ve got those pictures in my head. The only way I can imagine being able to complete this week’s exercise would be if I drew those outfits myself. And even then, I’m not at all sure that it’s helping me to identify my personal style any better  than the description of those silhouettes from last week’s exercise, which to be honest was far more useful to me than this one seems to be.

So… since this exercise is making me feel so bad about myself, and since it is not actually helping me to define anything more specific about what I like to wear, I’m going to excuse myself from it.

I feel better already!

Wardrobe Architect – #3

I am in avoidance mode. I’ve got the chiffon top that needs finishing, but it’s being a bit of a chiffon diva and I’m ignoring the problem for now!

It’s week 3 of the Wardrobe Architect and this week is WAAY easier. It’s looking at the shapes that we feel good wearing. I tried to complete the worksheet fairly quickly, so that my responses were instinctive and visceral. Looking back at my responses, it looks like I love a natural waistline, for skirts & dresses, and I love a full skirt or a straight/pencil skirt, way more than the in-between versions. I favour a knee-length skirt but when it comes to trousers, then it’s full length or slightly cropped only, ain’t nobody going to see me in shorts!* When it came to cardigans (and I was including jumpers in that) I’m pretty easygoing, medium-loose fit is my worst bugbear, and even that was merely a neutrality, I didn’t actively hate it.

The one big surprise about things I do actively hate was maxi skirts & dresses- I know many people who love ’em, but personally, long dresses are for balls and dance costumes, not for real life. The only other thing I detested was crop tops.

I’m looking forward to the coming weeks, when we get to consider proportions, colour, textures, details, beauty, and style signatures.

Wardrobe Architect

* Actually, out there in facebookland, there are some photos of me wearing red disco short shorts for a 70s inspired bellydance number that I did at dance summer school a couple of years back. They should be on a private group, but I’m well aware that there’s no true privacy on the interwebs. Thankfully I am slightly disguised by a red afro wig.

The Wardrobe Architect – #2

Week 2 of the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect project was a bit harder for me. One of the exercises was to create a list of words to describe one’s style, and even though I *love* words, I found this really hard. In my comment on Sarai’s post I very much glossed over this. Part of my difficulty is that I do know what I like and what tends to work for me, clothing-wise. It’s just not very categorisable (there I go, making up words again). Some people seem to be able to just say “I go for polka dots and Audrey Hepburn” and have very clear-cut preferences. My preferences seem to be all over the place.

Here’s my post:

I have to confess, I struggled with this week’s exercises! It’s hard to pin down something as insubstantial as one’s personal style.

The first two questions about how different clothes make me feel was very thought-provoking, and made me really focus on WHY I’m doing this. Why would I choose to acquire and wear clothes that make me feel “frumpy, old before my time, invisible, lazy, a failure, uncool”, when I could be acquiring and wearing clothes that make me feel “Confident, comfortable, elegant, stylish, unique, awesome”? I’m never going to wear clothes that make me feel bad again!

For the style icons questions, I had to think for a while. There’s nobody that I think “I want to dress just like her”. The people I admire for their style aren’t necessarily dressing the way I would want to dress. They’re dressing the way that they want to dress, they’re wearing whatever the hell they damn well like and that’s what I admire. So, for example, I love Helena Bonham Carter, Helen Mirren, Paloma Faith for their style. But I acknowledge totally that it’s not *my* style. This was another revealing answer for me. I’m lucky that I work in an environment where my personal clothing style fits quite easily into the “smart-casual officewear” expectation. Thinking about that has reminded me that I can and should happily embrace the whole “wear what I like” ethos.

I got my list of words down to: Simple, pretty, embellished, colour.

Now I know I should be collating some pictures, but I don’t even know how to start! I always feel like there’s nobody else in the world who wears clothes like I do, and I don’t fit into “fashion”. The nearest thing, I suppose would be my pinterest “inspiration” board: http://www.pinterest.com/beatricecurtis/inspiration/

To be honest, I think I’m quite aware of my personal style. I may not be able to put it into words, but I do generally know what’s going to work for me and what’s not. So it’s perhaps not so critical to my wardrobe planning to have those words and pictures to rely on. I was going to skip these exercises, but then I realised that later exercises might depend upon these answers, so I buckled down and did them- it was like doing homework!

In my physical wardrobe update, the culling is part way through, and Scope got two binbags full of clothes. That’s not to say I’ve thrown everything out that I don’t wear. I’ve kept a couple of things for sentimental reasons. But my wardrobe is now a lot clearer. One thing I’ve found is that I have far more skirts than I thought, and I’ve enjoyed wearing some of the rediscovered (and retained) skirts this week. I have ordered 20 skirt-hangers from ebay, because the reason I wasn’t wearing them was that I haven’t got enough skirt-hangers and I was putting about four skirts on each one, and so not seeing them. I can also see now that I need to acquire a lot more tops, because I have very few hanging up. I’ve still got the chest of drawers to attack, though, and I have a ton of Primark stretchy t-shirt type tops in there, which I do wear a lot, so I haven’t created a problem by throwing out all the tops that I have! But I do need more blouse type tops, especially some that are a bit more dressy.

And to that end, I’ve futzed around with the Simplicity 1806 pattern I got in the Plus Sized Pattern Pyramid, I’m ready to start cutting into my lovely grey & black leopard chiffon, and I’m determined to have this baby finished this weekend. I’m hoping it will work like I want it to, and it can become a good Go-To pattern for simple tops. If so, I should be able to make up some of the deficiency in tops quite easily.

Simplicity 1806

Simplicity 1806

The other thing I need more of is jumpers and sweaters and cardigans. Time to get back into knitting. I’ve joined Ravelry, and that’s a start, right?

The Wardrobe Architect – #1

Sarai at Coletterie has posted the first Wardrobe Architect exercise. It’s a worksheet about different factors that might affect one’s sense of style, or aesthetics. I’ve posted my comment on that post, and I thought I’d blog it here.

Sarai put forward seven possible factors. I started off trying to write about all seven, and it became very clear as I did that there was one factor in particular which has the greatest effect on how I dress. Here’s what I wrote:


This is probably the biggest factor affecting my choices in clothing.

I believe I have a healthy attitude towards my body image. For a start, I don’t think of my body as separate from my Self. It’s not dissociated from me. My body is as much part of my view of myself as my thoughts or my feelings are. I am a dancer, and that has meant over the years that I’ve grown to love what my body can do, and appreciate the beauty it can create. I like that.

OK my body is big, but I don’t see that as making me less attractive, or less stylish, or less sexy than someone who is smaller and slimmer than me. It’s a bit of a pain, though, because The World doesn’t revolve around the needs or wishes of people of my size, and that makes buying clothes an absolute misery. Honestly, I hate going clothes shopping, because it’s soul-destroying when you find something that you think you would look good in, and the largest size they do is a 14. And they think that’s a large! So often I’ve ended up buying clothes simply because they are the only thing that fits me. And that’s not a good enough reason to buy any garment. And it ends up languishing in the wardrobe, rarely worn, simply because I don’t enjoy wearing it, it doesn’t make me feel good about myself, and it reminds me too much of the awful shopping experience. Or I do wear it, but I don’t love it, and I still have all those associations, and I don’t feel good about how I look. So I don’t actually have very many RTW clothes that I love.

The experience of sewing and wearing my own clothes these last few months has been really beneficial, because all of a sudden I have clothes that do fit me, and that I do love, and I have only positive memories/associations. People compliment me on what I’m wearing, and that’s so affirming!

I’m making a start on the physical (as opposed to the metaphysical) aspects of my wardrobe, and there’s a big pile of clothing that will be going to charity shops and the textiles recycling bins tomorrow. If I haven’t worn it in 2013, then I’ve asked myself why. In some cases it’s because I couldn’t actually see it in my wardrobe, and actually it’s been a happy re-acquaintanceship! But in most cases it’s because it doesn’t fit, or it doesn’t fit in with how I’m wearing clothes now. I reckon if I’m not routinely wearing these things, throwing them out isn’t going to affect what I do routinely wear. So I’m being ruthless!

OK Universe, I get it!

The Universe has been dropping hints to me that I need to give my wardrobe the once over. Everywhere I’ve been seeing posts on revamping wardrobes, capsule wardrobes, wardrobe planning, reviewing, organising, decluttering… I thought it had all gone quiet and then I read Coletterie’s post on the Wardrobe Architect, and I was very nearly tipped into signing up for the Wardrobe Architect project then, but I held back. It had resonated but I wasn’t quite ready to commit.

Then today I read Fiona’s post on Seams Straightforward about how that Coletterie post had inspired her, and I knew that the Universe wasn’t letting me get away with it. It was time to accept the inevitable. So I’ve committed to the Wardrobe Architect project, and I’m looking forward to having my clothes be a bit more like I really want them to be.

In a way it’s really easy for me because I haven’t got a big house with lots of hiding places for stuff. I have a tiny flat and limited storage space. Once I’ve been able to get rid of the clothes I don’t wear, I can see what gaps I’ve got. I’m pretty sure I’ve got most of what I *need*, and there won’t be honking great big gaps, and many of those gaps I’ve got should be more or less covered by my current sewing plans.  It’s almost as if the Universe knew what it had in store for me when I was formulating my future sewing plans.

And now, it’s sunny and bright, and I need to go out and photograph the Red Square skirt.