In January of this year, I embarked on a 6-month Wardrobe Architect project. You can read all of the posts at this link, or see individual posts on the Tutorials tab. Over those months from January to July, I analyzed what I like, what I currently wear, what I would like to wear, and more, in an effort to better understand my ever evolving style.
The Past & the Future
At the end of the 6-month process, the idea was to set the plan into motion. I did a little bit here and there, but I honestly felt like I needed more time to get my life in order before I started in earnest. This year was largely about healing, processing, and putting myself back together again. The Wardrobe Architect project went brilliantly hand in hand with that. But spending the year grieving and putting on a bit of weight because of it, and knowing that I was likely going to decide to leave Los Angeles in 2017, I wanted to wait to really do anything until I was at the point where I started to reverse some of the weight gain, and had decided where I was going to move to.
Both my weight and location in the world factor into the style and silhouettes that I would be sewing for myself. If you missed the announcement that I snuck into my Instagram feed, the hot news is that at some point in 2017 I will be leaving Los Angeles for New York City. I am truly most comfortable in dense big city landscapes (I love nature too, but not remote rural living day to day), and the sprawl of LA has been a struggle for me. So now that I am factoring a different way of life into the picture, that changes my wardrobe plans a bit.
When I left Chicago for Los Angeles, my whole wardrobe changed. I didn't love parts of how it shifted, but my life in Chicago was completely different than my life in LA, so it was natural that my clothing would be different too. In Chicago, I didn't own a car and walked everywhere or took public transportation, there were really dramatic seasons (both hot and cold), and I went to a day job everyday. In LA, I drive almost everywhere so my shoes don't have to be comfortable enough for serious walking, I work from home, and the seasons are very moderate. When I first moved to LA, I had people come up to me and say directly to my face, "why are you so dressed up?" For me of course, I wasn't dressed up. Me wearing nice footwear and a vintage frock was everyday wear. But life in LA (especially in Venice where I lived at the time) is much more casual.
Life in New York will be much closer to life in Chicago, with slightly less dramatic seasonal shifts thankfully, but I'm grateful that I have my memories of Chicago walking and trains to draw upon. For example, if it's hot out, you might want to wear flip flops and a short mini dress. But the first time a bug or rat crosses your bare feet, and your bare skin sits on a sweaty subway seat, you start to rethink about so much exposure! (Yes, I've had both of those things happen to me while living in Chicago!) So things like maxi sundresses become more desirable so your bare thighs aren't directly on the subway seat.
Now with a city picked out, a body slowly returning to its original shape and size, and a bursting stash of patterns and fabric, I am finally really putting all I learned during the Wardrobe Architect process into motion. First off, since I'll be moving into a much smaller apartment, and won't want to move a massive stash, the main goal is to work with as much (if not entirely) of my existing fabric stash that I can. Thankfully I have more than I could ever need! Also, since I will be living in a much smaller place, closet space is a premium, so I don't want to over make. I want to sew choice key garments that I will love, that play well together, and will want to wear again and again, season to season.
Fabric & Color
First, let's talk about fabric. Looking back at my original plans for color and print, it is still pretty on point. I have done the fair share of organizing the bulk of my fabric stash, and looking at it in my cabinet is very closely related to my original color plan, which is below.
By far my favorite two colors are navy blue and charcoal gray, and my sorted fabric stash is dominated by these colors. Like the charts above, there are also pops of mustard, white, hot pink, and also there are touches of red. Red is not a color I wear often, but one I do like sparingly. Some of the fabrics that are in my stash are pictured below, and all stick with my love of neutrals and small prints. (Click on the images to open my Pinterest Wardrobe Architect board with all the original links)
Because I will be moving to a climate with more temperature and weather shifts, and because my closet will be shrinking in size, I want fabrics that are breathable, and mix and match well for layering.
I have reserved all my novelty prints for future quilts, or set them aside for a big studio sale I'll be having early in the year (stay tuned for an announcement on that if you're in the general LA area–it's going to be massive). I really just want to move things that I love and that represent who I am now. You know how you feel just before you go on vacation, where you want to sew all the things so you have the perfect wardrobe for your trip? Yeah, my move is like that, but times 1,000!
Patterns to Sew
I had already picked out a lot of patterns for my new wardrobe during the original Wardrobe Architect process, but with the move in mind, and the release of new patterns, my list has shifted a bit. I recently spent some time in New York, both confirming that I was certain about my choice, and reacquainting myself with real winter, and without question the way I will be dressing there will be different than the way I dress in LA. This is made evident by what I packed. I took a handful of different turtlenecks that I sewed up, one dress (that never got worn), and two pairs of jeans. I also brought very warm outerwear, and cozy warm pajamas.
First, let's talk abut the jeans. Some of you have likely never seen me in jeans, or any pants for that matter, and that is largely because I have never felt entire comfortable in pants. But without being dramatic, all of that changed a couple of weeks ago when I discovered the best fitting jeans I've ever put on my body. I've tried all kinds of styles, with all kids of fiber contents, but these were different. It took me a while to figure out why, and it turns out it is because they aren't just cotton and spandex, they also had 12% polyester in them. I know! Polyester! I don't know why that would make such a huge difference, but it did.
I am fully aware that I can sew my own jeans, but the honest truth is that I didn't want to invest the time to make them when I wasn't sure what kind flattered me best. But now I do, which is awesome because I now have jeans I like to wear, and awesome because I now have a pair to use as a point of reference when I do sew my own. I am not someone who shops ready made clothing very often, but I'm glad I finally found some jeans that look good on me, and make me feel good in return. For those that want to check them out, these are the jeans I bought. So, needless to say, now with pants in hand that I like, I have a long list of tops I want to sew!
I see my wardrobe divided into a few categories: tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and loungewear (including sleeping, swimwear, and gym attire). Here is my rough plan:
With a new pair of jeans in hand, I finally have a reason to sew tops, so many have been added to the original list. Also, tops and pants is a very practical way to go through a city that's a little grungy and where you're mostly walking. Dresses are great too, and they will always me my first love, but it feels pretty great to be protected by pants and a shirt. That might sound weird, but after 13 years of LA sundresses and heat, the comfort of closely fitted garments feels really good.
Polly Top by By Hand London - great pattern for layering and hot days, and a great stash buster
Aster Blouse by Colette Patterns - just a lovely casual top
Keana Piped Blouse by Named Patterns - I love a piped collar shirt!
Lark Tee by Grainline Studio - my go to favorite knit tee
Vogue 8906 - one of two views on this list, and an elegant and easy to sew blouse
Willow Tank by Grainline Studio - a chic woven elegant tank for summer layering
Archer Shirt by Grainline Studio - the classic button down shirt
Koko Top by Named Patterns - a fun take on a knit tee
Mélilot Shirt by Deer & Doe Patterns - love the tiny rounded collar and sleeve length options
Ogden Cami by True Bias - another chic top that I see being great for layering
Bonn Shirt by Itch to Stitch - I love button downs with a flat neckline and this one is adorable
Camas Blouse by Thread Theory - a knit alternative to a woven button down
Coppélia Top by Papercut Patterns - a feminine cardigan alternative
Astoria by Seamwork - cozy like a sweatshirt, but way more chic
Lottie Top by Christine Haynes (me!) - I love the Lottie and all its many versatile options!
Neenah by Seamwork - I took a handful of these turtlenecks, cut to a top length, on my trip and loved them for warm layering
Vogue 8906 - the other view of this pattern, without the buttons- elegant and flattering
Gemma Tank by Made by Rae - another great tank for layering on hot days
Other tops I love:
Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio, Talvikki Sweater by Named Patterns; Toaster Sweater by Sew House 7, Sointu Kimono Tee by Named Patterns; Anouk Top by Victory Patterns; Blair Batwing Top by Named Patterns; and the Laurel Top by Colette Patterns.
My two favorite shapes to wear in dresses are fit & flare and shifts. So finding variations on those themes is the main focus of my list of dresses to sew. I also think that a few longer dresses will slip into the list too, because of the previously mentioned flesh on subway seat situation!
Rumi Tank by Christine Haynes - the perfect dress for hot summer days
Ultimate Wrap Dress by Sew Over It - I've been wanting to sew a dress like this for ages!
Emery Dress by Christine Haynes - you know I love this one!
Tea House Dress by Sew House 7 - truth be told, I was working on a pattern almost exactly like this when it came out, so I love this dress and cannot wait to make one up!
Lottie Dress by Christine Haynes - I designed myself my favorite shift dress
Bonn Dress by Itch to Stitch - this is the dress length of the top from above, and I love it
Farrow Dress by Grainline Studio - a wonderfully chic and easy to wear dress for those days when you can't stand to wear something fitted
Kenedy Dress by Seamwork - another good one for hot days and layering
Caterina by Seamwork - can you tell I'm thinking a lot about layering? I know that dresses like this will serve me well on hot days when it's cooler in the morning and evening with a cardigan on top
Helmi Tunic by Named Patterns - there's also a top version of this minimal and chic shift
Wenona Dress by Named Patterns - a classic button down dress, but with loads of interesting details
Josette Dress by Ready to Sew - I love the colorblocking on this shift
Vintage Shirt Dress by Sew Over It - I've made a couple of dresses from this pattern already and absolutely love it!
Laurel Dress by Colette Patterns - another favorite go to shift, with more of an hourglass shape
Hermes Dress by I Am Patterns - I love that this is a cross between a classic button down dress and a caftan
Other dresses I love:
Pearl Shift from Green Bee Patterns; Fen Dress by Fancy Tiger; Moneta Dress by Colette Patterns; Lempi Dress by Named Patterns; Wren Dress by Colette Patterns; Xerea Dress by Pauline Alice Patterns; Tuuli Dress from Named Patterns; Cami Dress by Pauline Alice Patterns; Alder Dress by Grainline Studio; Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes; Rugby Dress by Merchant and Mills; Leotie Dress by Named Patterns; Sway Dress by Papercut Patterns; Aldaia Dress by Pauline Alice Patterns; Hazel Dress by Victory Patterns; and the Lottie Dress by Christine Haynes in the maxi length.
Like when I did my original Wardrobe Architect process, I struggle finding bottoms I want to wear, so this list below is short! This is for me the hardest category. Like many of you, I am curvy on the bottom, I'm short waisted, and I'm not very tall, so all of that together makes it hard to sew for the lower half in a flattering way. I know a lot of you feel the same struggle! But I am determined to sew some bottoms to go with all of those tops listed above!
Left to right:
Winslow Culottes from Helen's Closet - easy to wear pleated culottes for dressing up or down
Mimosa Culottes from Named Patterns - slightly more tailored culottes to give a try
Brooklyn Skirt from Seamwork - I think this skirt could work on my body and suit a range of styling options
Other possible bottoms to try: Tyyni Cigarette Trousers by Named Patterns; Zinnia Skirt by Colette Patterns; Jamie Jeans by Named Patterns; Clover Pants by Colette Patterns; Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns; Morgan Boyfriend Jeans by Closet Case Patterns; Boyfriend Jeans by Bootstrap Fashion; and Safran Pants by Deer and Doe Patterns.
I will be faced with a harsh reality that New York will be colder, wetter, and will have far more diverse weather situations to deal with. I'm 100% up for this, but layering is going to be necessary most days. On my recent trip, I took my newly sewn Ellsworth Coat in wool and underlined in cotton flannel, and I was very happy at how well it kept me warm in very cold conditions. But it will be nice to have more cardigans and layering options.
Artemis Cardigan by I Am Patterns - I've had this on my to sew list for a while. It's time to sew it!
Augusta Hoodie by Named Patterns - when I'm traveling home from the gym or ballet class, I like to have a layer that is made of something that feels good on a sweaty body. This fits the bill.
Waver Jacket by Papercut Patterns - I would love a mid-weight/lightweight coat in the mix and like this one a lot
Ellsworth Coat by Christine Haynes - I have already sewn a few of these, and have more cut out, so a range of these in a variety of weights will dominate my outerwear for sure
Lisbon Cardigan by Itch to Stitch - the perfect classic cardi
Driftless Cardigan by Grainline Patterns - I've sewn 3 so far with more to come. I absolutely love this pattern.
I'm calling swimwear, pajamas, intimates, workout attire, and at home casual wear "lounge". Anything that you would predominately wear at home or for one of those specific purposes, rather than something you would wear out and about on the street.
Sophie Swimsuit by Closet Case Patterns - this is such a great design. I have two of the kits that were sold when the pattern was released, just waiting to be sewn up!
Ooh La Leggings by Papercut Patterns - I think I have about 6 pairs of these in my dresser already and absolutely love them
Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerine - I have been hoarding a sizable stash of lingerie fabrics for a while and am super excited to finally get sewing my own bras
Rumi Tank by Christine Haynes - I designed this selfishly for me to wear to yoga, and I will continue to do just that
Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Patterns - I've sewn these up in the past and really love the way the top goes together. I honestly don't love the pants and always wear the top (lengthened into a tunic) with my Ooh La Leggings
Asaka Kimono by Named Patterns - I know this is meant to be something to wear out of the house, but for me this is a lovely at-home robe. I plan to make a maxi length version for lounging
Dunbar Top and Pacific Leggings by Sewaholic Patterns - I have both of these patterns in my stash ready to add to my gym wardrobe
Other loungewear I love:
Lark Tee by Grainline Studio (this is my go-to tee for ballet class and the gym, in addition to wearing out in real life); Boylston Bra by Orange Linerie; Watson Bra by Cloth Habit; Emma Romper by Ohhh Lulu; Sallie Jumpsuit by Closet Case Files; Lakeside Pajamas by Grainline Studio; Penny Raglan by Grainline Studio; Amina Pants by Papercut patterns; Hudson Pants by True Bias; Evelyn Wrap Teddy by Ohhh Lulu; and Simplicity 8228 by Madalynne.
Will I sew everything listed above? No, of course not. But I do plan to donate about 90% of my current closet and sew up a new fresh wardrobe before I move. And honestly, if I plan it smart, I should be able to get through a lot of my favorites above. For example, now that I've sorted my stash, I know exactly which fabrics I'm going to use for tees, tanks, or leggings, and those can be done assembly line style, where I spend all day cutting all the yardage, then the next day serging all the seams, and the third day doing all the finishing. And after 3 days, I would have a whole new collection of knitwear. Boom!
Style is ever evolving, and I feel like a very different person than I did a year ago, so it is fitting that I would want to dress differently too. I am less interested in anything overly twee, and am excited to wear slightly more classic and tailored garments. When I started my sewing career, I was many years younger, living in a new city, and falling in love with my late man. Now over a decade later, I am leaving that city, entering a new world of being single again, and stepping into the unknown. If I was wearing the exact same garments I did then, I'd worry about myself! I'm not at all the same woman.
Thanks to all for following along on this journey! I know some of you participated in the Wardrobe Architect project when I was posting about it earlier in the year, and I'd love to hear how you did, or how you're doing. Let me know below in the comments! (Side discussion: Does anyone actually read or comment on blogs anymore?)