I have trouble defining what my personal style is. I asked one of my friends once to help me define it and her response was "old lady." So there's that. I'm not too conscious of having a style but apparently other people can identify it. My husband remarked the other day that another girl (woman, whatever) at our swing dance class dresses like me. I like how she dresses so I was happy with the remark, but I don't particularly think we dress similarly. Perhaps this is because my ideas about how I dress are layered in swathes of memories, of how I dressed in college, how I dressed in high school, etc.
Anyhow, all of this is simply to introduce my take on the new Colette book's (which I don't have) advice about creating a "thoughtful plan" before you sew. She (apparently) writes about identifying what you like to wear in your existing wardrobe and working with those insights to create new garments.
I got the idea for this post from Toferet's Empty Bobbin. She chooses 5 favorite items from her wardrobe and then analyzes them in terms of her style. The idea is to pick 5 items that you regularly wear, that you enjoy wearing, and whose look you really like. These are garments that make you feel and look good. Now, to determine, why?
I would say I have two styles: work and non-work. Non-work consists mainly of jeans, with some skirts, combined with cute blouses. I'm not so into t-shirts anymore. I feel like I have too many grey hairs to really pull off the standard t-shirt look anymore, so I'm not comfortable wearing them. This doesn't mean I don't wear jersey tops, just that they are a little fancy, with ruching or a shawl collar or something which fancies them up. Non-work shoes generally consist of flats.
Work shoes also generally consist of flats. And I also tend to wear separates to work: again, blouses, but this time paired with slacks or a skirt. I've begun wearing dresses more often. But for both the dresses and the skirts I generally go for knee-length or longer. If I have to bend over to pick something up I don't want all my students seeing my undies!
I would say that my work style finds its way into my non-work wardrobe, but not vice-versa. For work I dress modestly (no deep v-necks without camisoles) and I tend to dress in layers (shirt + cardigan) to cover up any sweat circles under the arm! I do tend to work up a sweat while teaching so this is important! :)
So, here's what I chose as some favorite pieces from my closet, both me-made and RTW.
#1 This is one of my favorite all-time shirts and I don't wear it much for fear of it becoming threadbare. It's both work and non-work style:
I really, really want to find a sewing pattern with a similar silhouette so I can replicate this look! Any ideas?
#2 This skirt is also both work and non-work, but more on the non-work side:
This is a wrap skirt that I bought in Sevilla and I wear it all the time in summer. Obviously I have it styled here for non-work. :) I would never wear that top to school! The shirt plus this skirt also demonstrate my love of green...
#3 My palazzo pants, which can also be styled for work or non-work:
This was a photo I took for Me-Made-June, styled for work. I have paired them with a tank-top during summer for a non-work look.
#4 Probably my favorite dress, a shirtwaist dress (?) made from seersucker, J. Crew:
This is more work style, but I will wear it out even on a non-work day. I threw this on just to take a picture, obviously it hasn't been ironed! But the photo does represent how I normally style it: with flats and a belt.
And finally, #5, a cardigan:
This is one of two that I purchased from Banana Republic 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 years ago (the years blend together!) and I wear them to work all the time. While these can be styled for non-work occasions, I think they definitely belong in my work style. They are classic, sober pieces. I like a little more funk than that outside of work.
From all of this I have learned that I like brown and green, and that I dress "classically" for work and my non-work style is a little bit more hippy-dippy. Apparently I really like garments that can be worn comfortably at work and that can also be worn on a weekend without making me feel too overdressed or too old or too boring! Filling all those categories can be a challenge.
I try to funk things up a little with my shoes. Right now my shoes are fairly boring, but I used to have some nice polka-dot flats and some nice red flats. I wore them to death. I need to find some replacements because they really brighten up a dull outfit.
My other funky element - at least in autumn and winter - is paired with my skirts and dresses: colorful tights. I have a pretty good collection of tights: green and blue plaid, blue, blue with a design, and then your basic brown, grey and black. But I could add a nice merlot red pair and it wouldn't be too much ;)