personal style, sewing plans and the curated closet

After making several things this summer that I liked, but didn't necessarily love wearing I realized I needed better guidelines for the clothes that I make. While I only sewed up garments that I really needed, many were fails for different reasons, mostly related to fabric choice. (That is another blog post entirely.)

Per the recommendation of pretty much everyone on the internet, I decided to get a copy of The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. Due to her guidance, I began to document both what I want to wear and what I actually wear. Both my style and my life have changed a lot in the 10 years since I graduated college and I don't think I realized exactly how much until I was scrolling through some old Facebook pictures.

10 years ago I lived in the city, and while I had a job cooking, my life outside of work involved fancy cocktail parties and a fancy church (Church of the Advent - such a beautiful place!) where people liked to wear hats and drink sherry. Apparently, I owned a lot of shiny clothes and was really into selfies.

vintage miriam
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Fast forward a decade and now I work from home, so I only require a casual wardrobe, no office wear. My friends all have children so any parties happen at 4 pm and don't involve any clothes that require dry cleaning. Per the author's advice I began documenting every outfit I wore for two weeks. I haven't made it to two weeks yet, but close enough. Get ready for a series of poorly lit, unflattering photos because this is real life, not shiny blog life.

 Perhaps my favorite outfit! Collins top with maritime shorts

Perhaps my favorite outfit! Collins top with maritime shorts

 Lisboa top with my fave maritime shorts. While I do like the print, I'm not a fan of cap sleeves.

Lisboa top with my fave maritime shorts. While I do like the print, I'm not a fan of cap sleeves.

 One of my favorite ready-to-wear tops

One of my favorite ready-to-wear tops

 Linen blend Farrow dress is really comfortable but not particularly flattering or my style

Linen blend Farrow dress is really comfortable but not particularly flattering or my style

 Kalle shirt is cute, but I used binding that is too thick to finish the bottom and it makes me want to chop it off into a crop

Kalle shirt is cute, but I used binding that is too thick to finish the bottom and it makes me want to chop it off into a crop

 Feeling pretty meh about the Toaster sweater although I love the thick wool knit fabric sooo much

Feeling pretty meh about the Toaster sweater although I love the thick wool knit fabric sooo much

 It was so cold that I decided to wear this cozy sweater again despite it making me feel like a linebacker

It was so cold that I decided to wear this cozy sweater again despite it making me feel like a linebacker

 Love my flannel Archer shirt, want 10 more

Love my flannel Archer shirt, want 10 more

And last but not least, the picture I took celebrating my new jeans where you can hardly see them. Thanks, tripod. (It took me half an hour to get this picture.)

 I love these jeans! They are my first pair and have a few issues, like the fly that is way too long, but they are comfy and I've worn them a ton. Also, this picture really embodies everything that I've realized I like in clothes - natural fibers, drapey top and high waisted pants.

I love these jeans! They are my first pair and have a few issues, like the fly that is way too long, but they are comfy and I've worn them a ton. Also, this picture really embodies everything that I've realized I like in clothes - natural fibers, drapey top and high waisted pants.

Rees asks you a series of questions about how you felt about your outfits, which are very helpful, including 'which is your favorite?' For me, the surprising star of this summer was the drapey linen collins top that I made. Unlike my rayon shirts, it never sits in the tiny pile of delicates waiting to be washed with the special snowflakes so it's almost always hanging in my closet. I don't have to worry about sweating in it or the cats ruining it and it makes me feel like I have some sense of design and style and I'm not just a boring person who dresses for comfort above all else. I also love my flannel button down. I like myself in most button downs. And I'm in love with the high-waisted Ginger jeans I just sewed. I'm going to make another pair with the Cone Mills denim I have in my stash before I move on to rigid denim.

Rees advises you to make a mood board and/or Pinterest board for those of us who aren't into real life cut and paste. When I look at images I'm drawn to, it's not really surprising that this top is my favorite. I seem to be drawn to either high-waisted rigid jeans with drapey tops, or high-waisted flares with drapey tops. No dresses in sight, just easy separates. If you want to see more, my Pinterest board is here.

 This is my favorite image, although I don't know what kind of weather calls for thick sweaters and sandals.

This is my favorite image, although I don't know what kind of weather calls for thick sweaters and sandals.

Anyhow, based on everything that I've learned about what I want to wear and my personal style, I've begun to make my sewing plans for the coming fall/winter seasons and I thought I would do a fashion trend/sewing pattern mash up because I love reading these when other people write them. Obviously it will be all jeans and drapey tops.

After I realized that I really loved the style of high-waisted rigid denim, I went looking for a sewing pattern and to my surprise, there aren't any! But I was able to track down a vintage pattern from the 80s which is currently on its way from Canada to me.

jeans pattern.jpg

I'm going to be stylin', yo. As are a lot of people if the comments on my Instagram account are any indication. Everyone wants to bring back the 80's jeans. Although what was it with the 80's and back pocket placement? Did no one realize that it's fairly important?

I'm also very much into the Lander pant from True Bias - I love the high waist, the wide leg, and the button fly. So I'm sure I'll be making a pair or two of those once I plough through this vintage denim pattern.

 I want to make these in denim and also in some rusty orange twill.

I want to make these in denim and also in some rusty orange twill.

Another trend that I'm really loving is the drop sleeve. Unlike a traditional sleeve, it is not set in, but rather extended from the main body like a kimono. It has an easiness which is really lovely and casual, although I'm not sure how well it will do under cardigans and sweaters. I should be realistic about the fact that I live in New England. But I'm going to try making at least one before next summer. We'll be visiting Texas in November so I'll have at least one more excuse this year to pull out some summer wear. The Melilot shirt from Deer & Doe meets the criteria of being a lovely button down with a drop sleeve. I may need to hack it a bit to get that giant drapey sleeve. I could also hack my Kalle shirt dress pattern as well, but I want a slightly closer fit in the body.

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 ugh short, fitted skirts seem so high maintenance and uncomfortable to me

ugh short, fitted skirts seem so high maintenance and uncomfortable to me

When it comes to long-sleeved shirts, I love oversized sweaters although I don't have the patience to knit them. I haven't found any good sewn patterns for oversized, knit turtlenecks. Does anyone have a recommendation?

As far as coats go, I am about halfway through making the Kelly Anorak. I really need a transitional, rainproof coat with a hood for the fall and spring. I have one coat that meet most of those criteria, but it doesn't have a hood. I can't wait to finish this up! It has been so much fun to sew, especially once I got past my fear of installing heavy duty snaps.

 Here it's styled with high waisted jeans and boots much like ones I own.

Here it's styled with high waisted jeans and boots much like ones I own.

 Most fun sewing project ever!

Most fun sewing project ever!

Some women are into shoes. I am into coats. Unfortunately, one person can only wear so many coats. I don't need a real winter coat. I bought a heavy duty parka last winter. However, I am completely obsessed with this everything about this coat on the left - the perfect length, the vintage snaps, the rusty orange color, the patch pockets! If I were able to find wool resembling this at all, I would buy it immediately. Unfortunately, my internet searches have turned up absolutely nothing when it comes to orange mohair fabric. I did find a BurdaStyle pattern that somewhat matched the shape of the coat so if that magical fabric ever finds me, I will be prepared.

best coat ever
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So those are the things I most want to sew this winter.

Style is tricky. As I get older I find fewer and fewer trends even attractive and I've grown increasingly opinionated. I hate hate hate distressed jeans. I don't think cropped, wide leg pants flatter anyone. Cold shoulder garments just seem impractical and stupid. I don't follow fashion magazines or blogs anymore because they all dress so impractically and for a life that is very far from my own. It was really helpful to actually think about what I like and what I want to wear. I do think I have a distinct style that I'm drawn to, but for the most part, I have not been buying or sewing the things that actually match this style. Shopping at the fabric store can be much like shopping in a department store - the things that catch your eye are necessarily the things you will love on yourself or wear the most. When I walk into Pintuck and Purl  I want to buy all the Rifle Paper Co prints even though I don't like florals on myself. So now, thanks to the Curated Closet I have a list of styles I like and a list of things I definitely need to avoid no matter how good they look on other people.

Next up, I need to document the things I've made this summer that I've worn to death and those that I've made that haven't seen as much wear. Because I can completely enjoy the process of sewing up a pattern and then not particularly like the way that it looks on me or the way the fabric wears in the wash. But I will save that for another day.

the not so caftantastic birthday dress

If you sew and you are on Instagram, then you surely know that the latest "it" pattern was the Charlie Caftan by Closet Case Patterns. If you don't, well, everyone was sewing it up and posting fabulous pictures and that is why I chose it. I mean, how fun and breezy does that look?

Despite never loving bohemian styles on myself, I jumped on the bandwagon because it was hot out and other people were looking so elegant and I wanted to join the Caftan Cult. I decided my birthday was a good excuse to ignore my sewing queue and just do something fun. (I stand by that decision.) Pintuck & Purl had the most beautiful Nani Iro double gauze and I splurged on it, because birthday!

 Mr. Murray the Cat loves Nani Iro as much as I do.

Mr. Murray the Cat loves Nani Iro as much as I do.

A fabric this special demands a muslin, although I skipped adding the waist ties because that seemed like an unnecessary pain. But that was the real mistake. Untied, it was loose and baggy - it is a caftan after all - but I thought it would be more flattering once I tied it. I thought wrong.

A piece of clothing has not made me look this dowdy in a very long time.

charlie from the front

My waist looks wider, my hips look wider. You can't really tell from the pictures, but the neckline gapes out away from my body. This is not a sewing mistake. I stay-stitched everything, there was no stretching. It just kind of hangs out there since there is no bust fitting. (Maybe it would be better in a drapey rayon?)

It IS a caftan. I'm not really sure what I expected - something flattering? More fitted? Mostly, I just wanted to feel cute, and this does not make me feel cute. I got several compliments on it when I first wore it out, but I think that is the fabric making it look better than it is. Because the pictures below tell me that I am not imagining things.

My pose in the first picture hides several of the issues. And everything looks better from a distance. Here is how the fit generally looks. And you can't even see the copious shoulder wrinkles.

 Feeling guilty for subjecting this beautiful fabric to such a fate.

Feeling guilty for subjecting this beautiful fabric to such a fate.

charlie caftan back

It's like a potato sack with a string around it. I'm not sure where I went wrong, or why so many people are having such better outcomes. Maybe because they were expecting a beach cover up and got a beach coverup, but I was hoping for an elegant dress? Clearly, this was not the pattern for me.

I adore Closet Case Patterns, and I'll continue to buy most of the things that Heather Lou puts out, but I need to stick with the styles that are more me (like the Kalle shirt dress which I LOVE and need to blog about) and veer away from the ones that are not.

 I really like the parts of this picture that don't involve the dress.

I really like the parts of this picture that don't involve the dress.

This dress has enough fabric that I should be able to cut a tank top out of it. It's going to be back on the chopping block a.k.a. sewing table soon. I love this Nani Iro way much to let it go unworn.

In conclusion, I have to remind myself once again to stay within the parameters of the styles I know that I will wear and love and "to thine own self be true."

hamlet didn't say that clueless

But let's be realistic, I will still experiment and veer away from that occasionally because what is life without a few risks?