December 8, 2009

Have you seen my sense of style? (or year-end musings)

So it's the time of year where I get all reflective about how things have gone. And I have to say that I'm feeling a bit discouraged about my craftiness this year. I'm sure that if I looked back over the blog over the last 12 months, there would be some major successes. I think right now it's a combination of the overall fails that were my summer wardrobe project and the sister-of-the-groom dress of doom (basically the last two things I made), and the usual "I'm cold and there's four more months of winter" blahs. That, and I've really done no sewing in weeks, other than a brief session yesterday to reupholster my computer chair. I've actually made absolutely nothing resembling clothes since September. That's a long time.

I also think this feeling is due to the context of these musings, which was sitting at the garden center in my ginormous sweatshirt that I have to wear, with a ponytail that won't stay in my hair since I lost and/or broke all of the elastics that went tight enough to hold it well, and feeling generally cold and frumpy. But the point of all of this rambling is, I think I've lost my fashion sense. I just can't put good outfits together anymore, it seems--especially this time of year, where I'm pretty much always cold and therefore my usual go-to outfit is a bulky sweater and a pair of pants. And I'm kind of feeling like my style has gotten kind of boring-- like I was more daring with it when I was in high school, and the super-casual rut that college puts you in + trying to come off as professional when I'm teaching kids and still look young enough to get carded = I lost my personal expression. And it's really not helping that I did that summer wardrobe thing and ended up with nothing that actually looked good together. (Though I'm sure the tops would have looked ok with the jeans if they hadn't ripped up within a couple of wearings...) That, and though I hate to say it, I think that the year+ I spent in Wardrobe Refashion kind of didn't help, since I felt like I had to make everything I wore. So my confidence in my ability to dress well has kind of taken a bit of a nose-dive over these last couple of months. (Though I do think I'm better at it in the summer, when my focus isn't trying to avoid a perpetual state of near-hypothermia!)

I've noticed that I seem to need some kind of focus for my crafting--like this year, it was working on fit and using up stash. (Both of which I still need to work on.) But I think my quest for this year is going to be figuring out what my style is now and trying to only make things that fit into that. And learning how to put the stuff in my closet together into more interesting outfits, now that I actually have an organized one. (Hopefully I can pull off interesting and still somewhat professional...at least I can get away with funkier professional since I work in the arts!) Now I just have to figure out how to do that...

7 comments:

  1. I'll only make myself clothing if I can make it cheaper than I can purchase it. I work part time at Macy's, so I get some big discounts and perks on clothing. I bought black Tommy Hilfiger dress pants for $7 today. I couldn't make them that cheap.

    I found with my own style (I'm just about ready to graduate college) that layering helps a lot with making fun outfits that are comfortable and easy to wear. Mix and matching is key in making a wardrobe that stretches. I've found that having good foundation pieces helps a lot. Cardigans, pants, camisoles, stockings skirts. And then I mix in some more fun tops, interesting shoes or accessories to make the outfits more exciting.

    If you're set on making your own clothes, don't be afraid to go try things on in the store. It's a quick way to experiment with style--for free. And then you can start finding patterns that work with the look you have your mind set on.

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  2. I know that part of my "problem" is that I'm not very good at making things that are highly mix-and-matchable--ironically, I do know that part of my personal style is that I love prints. So that tends to be a lot of what I make, is either tops or skirts in these bold crazy prints (of course, you've probably figured that out from reading this blog), and then they'll only go with one thing. I think I need to start incorporating some more solids into my sewing/shopping repertoire! I also have trouble finding things that fit to my satisfaction, especially in the realm of pants and jeans, though I have recently found some pants that fit pretty well so far. So that makes me want to sew more than I buy because I can at least tweak it as I go to make it fit better. (That, and I do have to wonder about the human rights/environmental impact of a lot of mass-market produced clothes, which also makes me inclined to DIY or thrift them.)

    I think you're right, though, I need to evaluate what basics I should have in a wardrobe that works for my lifestyle, see what I have, and take it from there. That, and I think I'm going to go play around on Polyvore a bit so I can practice putting some outfits together and see what I like. You know, without messing up my currently-organized closet quite yet. ;)

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  3. "In Style" magazine puts out a good book on discovering your style. Also, Spiegel has a questionnaire on style and various examples from their store (ready for sewing knock off!).You've taken on a big challenge for the coming year. As Tim Gunn says, make it work!

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  4. Thanks for the tips, Rose! Although I think I'll have to take the "essential wardrobe elements" stuff with a grain of salt--based on what I've seen so far, I'm really not the slacks-and-cashmere sweater-and-pearls type! (Particularly because the cashmere would more likely than not make me break out in hives. And make me look way older than I am. Not ready for that!)

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  5. I'm so sorry it has been a discouraging sewing year for you. You wrote a post this year about gravitating toward the boho-hippie styles -- maybe that is a guideline to help?

    With limited time to sew recently, I have experimented more with combining colors and patterns. A week ago, I felt like I walked out of the house looking pretty disheveled after one such experiment, and this week I think I pulled it off, after hearing multiple compliments through the day.

    Also, I have heard/ read from several sources that having great shoes can make any blah outfit work. I think I have about 4 "standout" pairs of shoes/ boots and I notice getting lots of compliments on "my outfit", even if the outfit is very plain, when I wear these any of these shoes!

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  6. I did definitely think of the boho-hippie thing, Antoinette--though I guess it's a little more complicated than that, since I also can easily go very casual (probably too casual!), and sometimes I do like more tailored, fitted stuff. Especially funky blazer-type jackets. Oh well--- I guess no one fits too neatly into any particular style category!

    And you may have a point about the shoes, too....although I have to admit, shoes have always been my fashion nemesis! I've always had very wide feet (growing up, the only sneakers that would ever fit me were the boys' ones), and a somewhat larger overall size (9.5 or 10, depending on the shoe), which makes it very hard to find shoes that are both stylish and affordable (well, at least affordable with my "Over $25?! That's way too much!" sense of cheapness). So I usually just stick with black and darker brown-- you know, pair of black boots, pair of brown boots, same for sandals, pick whichever one matches the outfit better. I'm wondering if I should try to branch out a little more...maybe throw in a camel or a grey, if I could find one that would be versatile enough for several styles of outfit (work vs. going to church type stuff). But a friend did offer a suggestion yesterday that I hadn't thought of, when a couple of us got into a conversation about how wonderful thrift stores are--eBay. I checked. They actually have shoes in my size. It may be a fashion miracle. If I can figure out how to fit another pair or two of shoes into my limited closet space...

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  7. I think the solution is to move someplace warmer. ;)

    And prints can go with lots of different solids. :) So may be taking stock of your prints and seeing if there's a couple of solid pieces you can incorporate that can tie things together?

    I've had some luck with looking at the Real Simple magazine for clothes ideas. Not everything clicks but a few things do. (i.e. just page through it in line at the grocery store ;) ) They seem to be a bit more concerned with "real" women rather than some ideal.

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