Wardrobe Architect Week 1: Making Style More Personal

wardrobe-architectAs I mentioned in my post detailing my plans for the year, I’m going to be going through the Wardrobe Architect project which Colette ran back in 2014. I thought it was a good idea then, but at the time I don’t think I thought I needed it to plan my sewing and cement my personal style, but I definitely feel like I need it now!

I’m going to be doing a week every 2 weeks, as I don’t think I’ll be able to fit it in quicker than that! Here is my proposed schedule (so I am accountable at least a bit!):

Week 1 – 22/01 (obvs)
Week 2 – 05/02
Week 3 – 19/02
Week 4 – 05/03
Week 5 – 19/03
Week 6 – 02/04
Week 7 – 16/04
Week 8 – 30/04
Week 9 – 14/05
Week 10 – 28/08
Week 11 – 04/06
Week 12 – 18/06
Week 14 – 02/07

(there isn’t a week 13 as that was a giveaway in the original project.)

The first week is about making your style more personal. Colette have produced a worksheet to fill in with answers to various questions to help you figure out your motivations for what you wear. I’ll answer them here – I hope this is vaguely interesting!

HISTORY

How has your personal history informed the way you dress? 

I think the main way my history has informed my style is that I never felt cool at school because I never had the latest fashions. Having been bullied a lot through school (both primary and secondary), I felt really self-conscious through my teenage years. This carried on even when I was at university as I didn’t have much money so couldn’t go out and buy loads and loads of clothes, so I probably wore a very small wardrobe of clothes until I worked full-time. I think this all explains why I feel like I want the perfect wardrobe that will make me feel cool and mean I have awesome clothes to wear every day – this is why I compulsively buy patterns!


When did your tastes crystallize? Have they changed over the years, and why?

I’m not sure, really. I guess it’s evolved with each little period of my life – at university I dressed oddly smartly I think. Then when I started work at a bookshop, I carried this on but went a little more casual. Moving to London 7 1/2 years ago probably was the thing that has made the biggest difference to my style and self-confidence. Again I worked in a bookshop, and was surrounded by lots of people with lots of different personal styles. It made me realise I didn’t have to care about what was ‘fashionable’ (if there is such a thing any more!), I could wear what I wanted and felt good in. It was also while I was in London that I started sewing!I’ve also changed in the shapes that I like to wear – moving away from tight tops, favouring a looser silhouette on the top, but with skinny trousers. I also didn’t used to be so interested in vintage styles and shapes – I think this is probably something that changed when I discovered sewing and the online sewing community.

PHILOSOPHY

How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?

I’m not religious so I’ve found this question quite difficult. The main thing I could think of to include in this section was my growing awareness of how I consume. I’ve talked about this a little before on my blog, but I want to become a bit more aware of where my fabric comes from. A couple of years ago I read the book Overdressed (and I did a review of it, but it seems to have disappeared when I migrated my blog to a new name) and it has stuck with me what Elizabeth Cline wrote about the crazy levels of consumption caused by the trend towards fast fashion. Also the working conditions of the people making the clothes, and the damage caused to poor communities’ homes by the dying and other chemical processes used in the garment industry. It is tricky, though, because it’s really hard to know where fabric comes from – and I still don’t have very much money so I find myself weighing up price against the quality and origin of fabric, with price often being my most important concern. I do want to try to be better about this this year, though. If anyone has any tips for places I can buy ethical fabric at a reasonable price, please do let me know.

CULTURE

How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? 

I have no idea about this one!

How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older? 

As I mentioned above, I grew up in a house that wasn’t very fashion conscious, which I think has now helped me to not feel embarrassed about possibly looking a bit more individual than other people – now I’ve left school that is! I also grew up in a house without much money and clothes were one of the things not prioritised. I still feel this now – I never could justify spending much money on clothes, which is why sewing is so perfect for me. I can always justify buying fabric and patterns! I also grew up with my mum making quite a lot of our clothes when we were little, so I always knew sewing my own clothes was an option.

COMMUNITY

How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in? 

The main community that has influenced me, in terms of sewing and fashion, is the online sewing community! And especially all of the amazing independent pattern designers. When I started sewing, there was really only Colette, Sewaholic and Grainline and now we are really spoilt for choice – and it means we can find particular designers that really mesh with our styles! It was also through reading sewing blogs that I became aware of vintage fashion and realised I particularly love the 60s. I also feel inspired to have a (nearly) 100% handmade wardrobe – I’ll get there one day!

ACTIVITIES

How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices?

I think my activities influence me less than they used to – I cycled to work the last 18 months I lived in London so I pretty much always wore trousers. I also worked in jobs in London where I didn’t have to be particularly smart. Now, however, I work in an office which does require a certain level of smartness – I don’t have to wear a suit but the men do, with ties. It’s kind of harder and easier to be a woman as we have so much choice, but we have so much choice! I walk to work in 5 minutes, and do walk around at work quite a bit, so comfort is definitely high on my list of needs in clothing!

LOCATION

Does the place you live inform the way you dress? 

Cirencester (where I live now) seems to be a bit less individual than London, on the whole. I’m sure there are people everywhere who wear what they like, but it’s kind of obvious that big cities are likely to be more ‘out there’ than small Cotswold towns. I don’t feel that anyone would be judged for dressing how they like here, though.

How does climate factor in?The UK is friggin’ cold for most of the year – and Cirencester is definitely colder than London. Also I am cold-blooded, so being warm enough is probably the most important thing to me when getting dressed.

BODY

In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? 

I’m not sure, really. The only thing about myself that I ever wanted to change was my terrible crooked teeth. I had braces as an adult, in my early twenties, and it is easily the best thing I’ve ever done in terms of my self-confidence. It might sound like I’m really up myself, but I’ve never been particularly conscious of my body – it all works, so I don’t have any reason to complain. I could be fitter, but I know I’m too lazy!

What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

Having said I feel confident in my body, I don’t like it to be on show particularly. I prefer to be quite covered up – I especially feel uncomfortable if my cleavage (what little of it there is!) is on show. I don’t mind showing off my figure (such as in my Lace Dress) as long as I’m not showing too much flesh (which is how I felt in my BHL Georgia Dress). I have moved away from more fitted clothes, particularly on my top half, in favour of a looser fit. I feel more comfortable in looser styles. I also hate to wear ill-fitting things (as some of my earlier makes now are) as I don’t like feeling pinched or like I have to spend the day adjusting things.

So there we go! I wrote more than I thought I was going to, which hopefully is a good thing! I’m really looking forward to the next week and to nailing my personal style once and for all – though I suspect I’ll end up with about 4 different styles!

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5 thoughts on “Wardrobe Architect Week 1: Making Style More Personal

  1. Love this post! Its a really fascinating exercise, with lots of issues that are worth exploring, especially how our perceptions of ourselves so often come through other people (such as with bullying, peer pressure, gender, family role models etc), and what effects our backgrounds have on our style choices. I’m going to go off and do this myself! Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. It was interesting when I really started to think about all the things and people that might have influenced me – and it’s just about clothes! Yay for you joining in too – the later weeks are about shapes and colours and styles and things, so you end up with a capsule wardrobe, or at least the idea of what it will look like!

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  2. Enjoyed reading this and learning more about you (although massive sadface at the bullying! I was too). I really quite enjoyed this process so I hope you do too and that useful insights come out of it. I really must go back and look at mine and see how my choices now fit in with the outcome of my Wardrobe Architect. In terms of ethical fabric and knowing where it comes from, I want to be better at that too, and also not just buying fabrics (and patterns!) for them to sit there in my stash. I sometimes wonder whether that means it’s just like fast fashion, so fast fabric. I’m undecided but ultimately, I just need to sew my stash! I’m blabbering on. I noticed Wendy Ward wrote about ethical fabrics which is a short, interesting read with some useful links: https://wendyward.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/my-top-5-ethical-sustainable-fabrics-for-home-dressmaking/. Oh and yup, I felt pretty exposed in my Georgia dress as well actually, and it’s recently gone onto the recycle pile (it was pretty terribly sewn!).

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    1. I feel like all the best people were bullied at some point 😉 I’m really looking forward to finding out what my style is – I suspect I already know some of it, but at the very least if it can stop me making things I will never wear, then it will be a success!

      Thanks for the link to Wendy Ward, I hadn’t seen that post. She also has a link at the bottom of the post to ethical fabric shops. 🙂

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