Me Made May 2016 Week Three

I am getting a little bit tired of this project. May is a long month! You are probably getting fed up of pictures of my daily grins. I am slightly running out of outfits. And I am absolutely running out of willing photographers. But I am getting more insights as a result.

So let’s have a look at the pictures.

On Friday I took the day off work and went to inspect the building works on our holiday home project and then went on to my Mother’s’ for the night. Sunday was back home for some pattern cutting and looking after the babies.

Reflections to date:

  • Not much in the way of neutrals. Many other MMMay16 people seem to wear a lot of black and charcoal.
  • Very few pairs of trousers, and not many dresses either – I am a skirts person
  • Probably more bottoms than tops. Again many others are makers of tops. I generally prefer to wear a RTW stretchy T shirt
  • My colour palette is fairly restricted (cool – bright – light) but this means that the wardrobe overall has a harmonious look. With it being a separates wardrobe most things will go with other things.
  • I have more summer outfits than I will have a chance to wear, especially high summer wear such as lightweight, sleeveless dresses. I keep these items on a top shelf and take them on holiday with me, but they will only be worn once or twice year.
  • I wasn’t tempted to wear anything twice, although IRL I would probably repeat an item once or twice a month
  • I got out a few things which had been set aside, specifically the grey draped skirt. I have another nicer grey skirt but I thought I had already worn it (but I remembered wrong)
  • I found a few items that needed mending, altering or fixing. I am embarrassed about this. For example I was going to wear this nice pink dress which I love, but it itches (silk underlining) so I took it off. If I line it I will enjoy wearing it. So I have put the clothes that need more work/mending in a big bag and I aim to tackle them. However I prefer making new things on the whole so I don’t know how I will get on.
  • In winter I wear a jacket (and coat) most days. In summer a cardigan or light jacket is enough. I don’t have Me Made cardigans or light weight top layers
  • I wear lots of tight, stretchy T shirts as a base layer. I have never made a T shirt.

Already I am aware of what sort of things I should be making in future

  1. Trousers suitable for work, possibly with matching jacket. However I don’t really have the best figure for trousers, especially the tailored type. I don’t like unlined wool on my legs, and I have yet to perfect the fit.
  2. Long sleeved, round necked T shirts. However I find the RTW ones are very cheap, come in great colours and fit superbly because of the lycra/cotton fabric. I would need a more interesting pattern or fabric to make it worth my while
  3. Are there any other sort of useful base layer tops other than shirts? Maybe I need a few shirts. I have made one or two but I prefer RTW actually.
  4. Some more neutrals would be useful – a light grey suit, and maybe a beige one perhaps. A very dark brown or a light navy?
  5. Are there any other colours I should try? I like yellow – lemon and primary yellow, not mustard. I like the blue-greens, blues and bluish pinks. Purple. I don’t wear much red, funnily enough, as it is a good colour for me. I always worry it is a bit too orangey a colour I dislike on me. There are also some nice, cool (bluish) browns out there that could add some depth to the wardrobe.
  6. Finally something I could wear instead of a colourful cashmere cardigan. Actually I fancy a few more in beautiful colours but they are very expensive. So what might be a good substitute for an outer layer for summer use?

 

 

A visit to Bridget. And Vogue 8864

Last weekend we had a Jordanian adventure holiday meet-up at the beautiful home of Bridget and Julian in Mile End, East London. What fun.

On our trip to the River Jordan, we sat behind the couple, who amused us as they were so well prepared for the long coach journey. They had detailed, specialist map of the area! They had crosswords and various other well thought through and relevant reading material. And Bridget had some knitting. She was making a complicated Kate Davies design. I found it, and the knitter, quite fascinating: “Inspired by the dusk flight of a huge flock of starlings shortly before they roost, the scarf features a Turkish cast-on and is knitted using stranded colourwork.” The scarf is knitted in the round in two halves which are cleverly joined together so that you have a gorgeous graduated pattern, a double thickness scarf and no visible joins. She showed me the finished piece which is almost as good as Kate’s original, and features the same colour scheme.

Bridget had produced a wonderful array of Middle Eastern Meze, plus lamb. Nick made a huge Couronne loaf and some sweet pastries. Around 10 of us enjoyed sharing what the expedition had inspired – two amazing books of photographs, plus  some beautiful camels. Professional artist and sculptor Charlotte Morton had joined the trip and sketched and sculpted during our week away,  so we were really excited to see some of the work it had inspired.

In addition we got to see Bridget’s home and some of the art works she had made herself. A life-long textile enthusiast she worked on the costumes for opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics.”Most of the volunteers were recruited from the colleges and it was a real treat to be shown the latest project that the various students were working on and wanting help/advice encouragement.   One of the sadnesses is that none of us took photos as we were all keeping it secret!”

As well as being an ace knitter Bridget weaves.

She showed me a lovely green and blue scarf she had woven as well as the gorgeous orange and navy wall hanging (below). She even gave me a glimpse of her loom behind a screen in her marvellous second floor workroom, but she needs some help with threading it up. She took us around the bedrooms, complete with quilts. As you can see she likes colour (so do I). The stories are nice too. The quilt in the blue walled room is made from a large collection of gorgeous handkerchiefs, most from the 1930s and 1940s I would say. Bridget inherited these from a neighbour, backed each one, and mounted it on a complementary silk background. Unfortunately the handkerchiefs are not the same size so putting the jigsaw together was rather challenging. I loved this quilt. I remember getting a few old handkerchiefs when my great aunts died and they were just like this. Although many of Bridgets were made from silk whereas most of mine were cotton. My Mum said that a silk handkerchief will not make your nose sore if you have a cold, whereas cotton makes it red. I am not sure if this is true. Then Bridget took me to have a look at her other quilt made mainly from leftover fabrics, most of which are Liberty prints, and most of which had a story associated with them.

Inspired by Bridget and bloggers like Stephanie and Sue Stoney, one day I will learn to

  • weave,
  • machine knit (Bridget says it is terribly boring),
  • knit complicated patterns and garments (again Bridget says its fine to watch TV but avoid the Scando detectives as there is a lot of reading involved), and
  • make patchwork quilts.

But at the moment I am too busy. Bridget feels the same as me but the other way round – she used to make clothes but hasn’t for years. She pulled out a pair of trousers her mother was making before she died (a decade ago). She gave them to me to think about finishing. I didn’t commit in advance, but will examine them closely. Also I borrowed a paper pattern Bridget had in her store. Her dressmaking had more or less stopped by the 1980s but she had some real classics from that decade. I took a liking to this one. I traced over the three pieces and made it up very quickly. I like this look, but I also liked the button finish and the sleeves. So I may make it again – perhaps in a sandwashed silk.

I have experimented with block printing, screen printing, digital and painting on fabric. But the yarn crafts are another story. Do you fear getting interested in another craft, or do you embrace the diversity of creating textiles as well as garments?

Pattern cutting 0.4 Hooped, dropped shoulder dress

This week’s project was more challenging.

First we had to create a dropped shoulder, and then create style lines across the dart areas. Those 1980s models look demonic.

I have to admit i got quite excited. These off the shoulder numbers are all the rage and appear to be very popular in the shops at the moment, and they are rather nice. But as you can see from the pictures these designs rely on being made of tight-fitting jersey or elastic. The requirement in my class was to create a fitted dress with dropped shoulders.

Compared to the cap sleeves we introduced last week (an extension from the bodice) this time the sleeve block is involved. Basically you slice off the sleeve head, divide into two and attach to the front and back bodices. I actually made a card version as I thought I might like to come back to this design. Then the deeper neckline is created.

The second part of the project was to draw style lines across the open darts, cut apart and close the darts. This was also a very nice and interesting experiment. I planned on creating a spiral dress but, to be honest, at 8pm at night after a very stressful day, I just couldn’t concentrate. Vanda suggested a simpler idea – go for a symmetrical pattern instead, creating five concave hoops on the front, joining the five convex hoops on the back. This was an appealing idea, turning all the darts into horizontal seams and echoing the dropped shoulder. Here is my sketch. (She looks a bit like Lara, doesn’t it?), and a hooped jockey jacket.

I decided to toile this dress because although I am confident now that my one-piece dress fits well I was worried that by the time I had chopped it up and closed all the darts it might be a bit wonky. I marked the seams with a pencil but I didn’t baste and my seams didn’t line up perfectly. That will be the challenge when I make up this dress in different colours to show off the sections now created. There are 15 areas where the seams need to meet perfectly (five on each side seam and both sides of the zip)But the fit is great. I am very pleased with this dress although I think I need to take a little off the shoulder seam to make sure it doesn’t come down. It needs to fit rather firmly I think.

When drafting it I wondered if I should create some flare in the skirt – it might balance out the shoulder line better, but I think I like these slim dresses as a new look for me. I will need to wear a strapless bra with this dress, making it an evening or “occasion” type dress, but I love the way the horizontal seaming works. There is a seam above the bust, across the bust, at the waist, hips and thighs. This is easiest to see in the back view. I think my “hoops” maybe a bit subtle, curving up (back) or down (front) about 4cms each time.

I am still at the “wearable toile” stage so I have pulled out some fabrics that might work – a combination of cottons and linens. Until I have it colour-blocked I don’t know if the style lines will look very attractive or not. But eventually I think I would like to try cerise and white silk like that old jockey jacket.

navy, white, maroon and patterned fabric
Fabric selection for hooped dress

Any advice or suggestions please?

Pattern cutting 0.3 The tent dress

Our project this week was to make a pattern for a tent dress. Although our teacher showed us some fairly nice pictures of tent dresses I wasn’t keen.

She picked out this Victoria Beckham number which was controversial. In the class some of the younger women raved about the style. I just hated it, and I always try to keep an open mind about fashion.

Nevertheless I made the pattern. Our version had a boat neck, a cap sleeve, facings and additional width at the hem was also suggested. This was a suggestion too far for me. I just made up the basic foundation tent dress pattern thinking that these very plain styles feel a bit like a Japanese pattern book which I am sometimes tempted to try.

I was pleased about how simple the pattern making was – even though I know anything that looks like a tent doesn’t look very nice on me. I am not really sure a tent dress flatters anyone but maybe they do. I have seen larger ladies wearing them and I suppose the advantage is you get a nice close fit across the upper chest but no constrictions around the tummy or hips. And I suppose on very slim tall models, worn very short, they sort of emphasise the thinness and length of the legs. But on me? No!

I simply hate this dress. True the lilac linen is rather nice (I had bought this for my Sweet Pea collection), and the boat neckline/cap sleeve look is fetching. But I literally felt overwhelmed in this dress. I felt like I had two sails either side of my body. I put my hands in the pockets, just like Victoria,  but there was nothing I could do. As my friend Sew it or Throw it? says on these occasions: “Throw it!”.

But first ladies and gentlemen, let’s see it with a belt.

Of course it is better, but it is still  vile. Stage wear for water carriers or extras in a biblical movie maybe. Or as Nick says something for mowing the lawn in. Maybe it could be improved with guy ropes and a ground sheet. As you can appreciate I insisted on these pictures being taken inside the house – I couldn’t risk being seen in the street in a tent.

I considered separating top from skirt and introducing a gathered waist, or slimming down the sides and putting some darts in front and back waists, but the tent dress had no fastenings. In the end I cut off the side flaps, removed the pockets and cut it off just above the hip. It makes an OK top.

Me Made may day 9
cap sleeve top

Would you ever wear a tent? What sort of figure would look best in this style?

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama costume exhibition

posted in: Inspiration | 10

One aspect of dress making that has never been my lot is making clothes for performance. I love theatre but much of what we see is modern, slightly experimental fringe theatre. Most of the actors seem to wear their everyday dress. But of course the costumes of a play, the setting, props and staging are what ensure the words come to life for the audience. London has around 250 theaters, including world class opera so if you are interested in making clothes that bring a sense of authenticity to the stage or screen there are many opportunities to learn how, here in the capital. Our two main colleges for degrees are the University of the Arts London, and the Royal Central (part of the University of London).

Royal Central held its Design and Crafts Exhibition at its site in Swiss cottage, and we went to the student’s work.

I was immediately attracted to this one which was literally covered in fabric flowers. I have seen many versions of this dress, and have had a go at this myself.

Hollie Kostis floral dress
Hollie Kostis Flower Dress

However the finest work was the creation of a number of historically accurate garments, often based on the amazing books of Janet Arnold. These books which were well used when I was a student have still  not been surpassed, allowing modern seamstresses to create authentic garments from any period in history. Starting with the undergarments shows that the students understand that a realistic figure requires the use of shaping and structure.

Four historical outfits were also shown – all of which had required an enormous amount of painstaking work. I was told by the students that hours and hours of hand sewing, pleating and bead application had kept them busy during the final term. To some extent these outfits are replicas, and designing for stage is different from designing for everyday wear. They need to be light and flexible, durable and build the character and help to tell the story. Quite a challenge on top of expert pattern cutting, excellent fitting, finding correct and believable fabrics, repair, cleaning and maintenance.

And there were some charming modern pieces too.

The standout item for me was the Early 19th Century Regency gown made from silk muslin, by Ellen Murgatroyd. I thought she showed great sensitivity as well as the most developed construction techniques. I will be watching out for her as I believe her career will really take off.

Me Made May – week two

Another week; another set of pictures taken by random helpers; another week of variable, unpredictable British weather. It really isn’t very nice at the moment. There are a few sunny days, interspersed with rain and chills. Like many Brits, as so many of my Australasian friends have noticed, I am relentlessly optimistic and you will see I have left my tights off four days out of seven.

I vacillated between the bare legged look and cozy cardigans, standing on a damp pavement and then towards the end of the week (day 12)  being photographed outside at work in bright sunshine.

So time for a few reflections after doing this for two weeks.

  • I have plenty of clothes which are made by me. No surprise, but I had plenty of choice. Once or twice I would have prefered RTW but I never mind a bit of restriction or creativity.
  • I wear a lot of skirts. This is mainly because I get a more comfortable fit with a waist line, plus it allows me to get more than one or two colours into an outfit.
  • The jeans (this week and last) are the only trousers I really wear. I think I may need to make more trousers for my working wardrobe.
  • I have some lovely summer season clothes that I wear rarely. I love the day 13 green skirt but it is thin cotton and doesn’t lend itself to wearing over tights, so it gets hardly any wear. Whereas the three wool skirts I wore this week are regular work staples.
  • i invariably wear a belt, whether I need one or not. This is because I like my waist – and probably explains how I often put my hand there when I am posing for photographs
  • I wear flat shoes almost all the time – except for parties and dressy occasions. There is a debate going on in the UK at present about whether or not companies can insist on heels for reception staff. I tweeted Rochelle’s and my footwear choices on #FawcettflatsFriday
  • Rachel noted, on Instagram, that some of the fun of #MMMay16 is getting various people to take your picture. Exactly! You can tell from the background who is responsible for mine. My office = my PA Sarah. Outside the house = kindly husband. Brompton bike factory = my Finance Director (I should have tidied myself up but didn’t want him to think me vain!), and one of my colleagues who was eating her lunch took the picture of me in red and pink in our office garden.
  • I am hoping we have some warm weather in the UK as I have a few SWAP 2016 outfits I am keen to show off.
  • From 27 to 30 May we will be in Romania on a brief bank holiday break. I will be walking, cycling and horseriding so that will be an interesting change.
  • I really like Instagram and am enjoying seeing what everyone else is wearing.

 

Summer princess line dress (based on Karen Millen dress)

Once upon a time I had a white Karen Millen dress with big red flowers on it.

Dressy, yet comfortable; flattering but not revealing,  I wore this dress for various warm weather “events” for several years. I loved the colour scheme.  I didn’t make of habit of standing by the men’s toilets with a fire extinguisher but the first picture shows me receiving a leaving gift in a Brighton pub when I was the Director of Housing. The second photo is of Joan Bartlett’s 90th birthday when I was the Chief Executive of Servite Houses. I had this dress in my mind when I planned on making a summer, princess-line dress floral dress. It wouldn’t be the first time i had subconsciously recreated an old favourite; I appear to have form when it comes to making the same dress again and again.

I toiled the pattern in grey first and then made the dress in stretch cotton which I bought online. While the red is just a little bit orangey, perhaps, I am pleased with the quality and look of the fabric.

Compared to the toile I altered the pattern a little at the bust, and I changed the side seams a smidgen. The bodice is lined with white stretch cotton sateen similar to the dress fabric, and the skirt with a nice soft lawn I used previously for my 1940s folkwear blouse. 

I wore it for the Southwark Mayor’s Ball, a black tie do, at the weekend. I matched it with my high heels, Israeli earrings,  Westwood style jacket and a couple of vintage brooches. And to bring out the reds (rather than the corals) I took my red evening bag too.

Thank you to those of you who suggested the fabric and alterations to the pattern. I followed your suggestions and I made the white dress just marginally shorter than the grey one. Although I agree the proportions might look better with a shorter skirt (looking at the dress on its own) I feel that with a jacket or cardigan the strong horizontal somehow restores the balance. Below is the wearable toile, worn to work, with a cardigan, belt and flat shoes. It is a little long but I just don’t want to show my bare knees or feel at all uncomfortable in a chair in summer time. I think the belt is a major improvement myself.

Pattern cutting 0.2 The dress with a high waistband into a pinafore dress

At my evening class Vanda gave us a drawing of a dress with sleeves, princess line bodice, a high waistband and flared skirt. Over the three hour class (and a very short break for me to eat a bowl of Nick’s green soup) we had to draft the pattern, produce clean pattern pieces, label each one, add notches and grain lines. I managed to achieve it all, except for the sleeve, in two and half hours. I didn’t want to use the size 12 sleeve block so I went home to draft my own, using my personal bodice block (of which more, later). We were allowed to put in our own variations so long as they “looked nice”. I left the neckline but dropped the waist further, closer to the true waist as with my Karen Millen dress I had already created an empire line dress.

When carrying out the exercise I realised that the button front would be inadequate to allow access to the dress as the waistband is pretty tight and close fitted. I imagine the assumption was that the fastening would be at the side but the instructions don’t mention it.

Dress with high waistband
Pattern cutting exercise “Dress with high waistband”

I put lots of flare into the skirt. Compared to draped flares, where the fabric is cut above the waist (or other seam line) and then dropped to produce a flare, in flat pattern cutting the dart is closed and the skirt (or other element) is sliced from the hem and swings out. But when I got the pattern home I didn’t want to make it up. Again the dated pattern books produce clothes that don’t suit me.

At the weekend I drafted more blocks – the easy fitting bodice and two piece dress, the sleeve and the skirt. I haven’t had time to fit any of these items yet and I intend to make up a batch of calico for a session with Pia fairly soon.

However I thought I might use my new straight tailored skirt block (from Aldrich) instead of the flared skirt and make a pinafore dress.  As it has been rather chilly (snowing and hailing between strong sunshine actually) I was drawn to a piece of purple-blue coating fabric remnant I had in my cupboard. Of course it is a bit thick for a dress but sometimes a thick wool dress is just the job. I love the colour of this fabric and it is a really nice quality. Also I bought some new tough shears and I so wanted to try them out.

New Fiskars Amplify scissors
New Fiskars Amplify shears

The shears worked well. The trouble was there are only 80cms of fabric. Omitting the button closure made sense.  I cut the front and back on the fold. As I was so short of fabric I had to cut the back side panels of the bodice on the cross (widthways) grain. Not great for testing the pattern but the skirt is cut correctly, with a tiny bit of flare (just 1cm) at the hem. I had to create 1cm seam allowances and just 3cm for the hem which isn’t really enough for this fabric, but we shall see.

Rather than make facings (no fabric left and also it is very thick) I decided to line the dress with some luxurious Chinese silk satin my friend Meddie kindly gave me for my birthday. You can see it peeking out at the armhole – I may understitch it by hand if that annoys me. The dress will go on over the head, and zip up at the side.

The lining fabric is interesting, printed in two distinct patterns. A soft, watercolour blue floral, next to a dogtooth print with spirogyra red detail. I use one full panel for the skirt and the half panel for the bodice, providing just the right amount of fabric and leaving the softer blue floral fabric for a blouse or second project.

I will finish it off and report back next week.

Behind the scenes at the Museum of London

I think of the Museum of London as our second great gem (after the Victorian and Albert). But whereas the V&A is establishment (royal, no less) the MoL is radical, more working class, more social in its flavour. It is much poorer but also perhaps more accessible, always (to my mind essentially) putting the clothes in context, and always taking an interest in working clothes. So when I got a chance to go behind the scenes with a friend who supports the museum financially I jumped at it. What an absolute treat and privilege.

The website explains:

Clothes began to be collected as soon as the idea of a museum for London became reality in 1911. Until around the 1960s mainly garments from earlier periods were added with the exception of the two World Wars when contemporary collecting took place. The early curators of the museum were aware of the importance of clothes to bring history to life and in 1933 the museum was the first in Britain to publish a catalogue of its costume collection. “Costume is interesting because it is splendid, ridiculous, useful, pompous, dignified, sombre, gay, fantastic – because, in short, it is human. ” REM Wheeler, Keeper and Secretary of the London Museum, 1933

I agree with Mr Wheeler.

Virtually every item is donated, and very few are ever disposed of. They don’t have the resources to buy artifacts and outfits, and they are truly grateful for donations of money and time. If you are in London and want to volunteer they will greet you with open arms.

Beatrice Behlen
Beatrice Behlen

On Thursday we were taken around by Senior Curator, Beatrice Behlen who started her tour by showing us what was on her table. This area is where around 400 students and researchers come each year to see some of the 26,000 exhibits they hold. She showed us first some 17th century prints showing male and female dress, remarking that very few garments survive from the 1600s. She explained how there are a group of people making fascinators based on this period of history and she had got out some small embroidered “misers purses”, many richly beaded or embroidered, including one shaped like a frog.

And in a complete contrast she showed us an outfit they had received in the late 1980s from a woman who provided her trousers, boots, jumper and jacket she had worn as a 14 year old punk. She had a photograph of the young woman, and notes about where she had acquired all the items. And finally, on the table was a wedding dress from the 1940s which had been worn by four brides during and after the second world war. Beatrice explained that she rarely took wedding dresses as they have many, many examples, but this one (made in artificial silk) had beading created by a cousin who worked for Norman Hartnell. She had photographs of all the weddings and the stories associated with it, carefully typed up by the donor on an old-fashioned typewriter. Plus photographs of their vegetable and egg stall in East London.

It became apparent to me that Beatrice was really interested in the context and social history behind the clothes in the collection.

We also learnt quite a lot about storing textiles and clothes.

  • Avoid wood which emits gases that will stain and rot clothes. The yellowing of tissue paper is an indication that this destructive process is occurring. These days the clothes are stored in metal cabinets or acid free cardboard boxes.
  • Avoid light. This will take colour from clothes and rot the fabric.
  • Moths are the other main fiend, so protect your clothes from the devilish little creatures who live off wool, silk and fur.

The most interesting part of our tour was when Beatrice pulled out a lady window cleaners’ outfit from the First World War. The jacket (worn underneath this overall) was very badly faded – it was a yellowy green colour with patches where labels had been attached. The jacket had been on show at the Imperial War Museum for decades and now returned, so she could compare it with the trousers. They were a deep khaki green – a completely different colour. We examined the beautiful construction of the trousers, with good waist shaping and generous pockets. She told me they also owned the “very nice water bucket” too.

Mayfair window cleaner 1WW
1WW window cleaner

We had a look at lots of shoes – military boots, 1970s stacked shoes, fishmongers clogs – all these items had a connection with our capital city although the provenance of the items was varied (“worn by older woman, London”; the consistent piece of information given was the date of acquisition. Lots of hats too – a wide range of top hats of all shapes and sizes and ladies bonnets, not all in the best condition. Beatrice is looking forward to the next intern who will be asked to tackle the ladies hats (a nice job!).

There is a good showing of dresses and suits from well-known English designers like Norman Hartnell and Mary Quant, Tommy Nutter and Hardy Amies. She would like more Vivienne Westwood, but many of her items are very valuable, especially from the punk period.

I had recently read A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson where she introduces Kibbo Kift. This 1930s organisation, which provided a less “militaristic” and “royalist” youth organisation than the Scouts, had a range of interesting outfits and banners, a good collection of which had been donated to the Museum. We were shown some of the colourful, handsewn garments and banners that were used. You can definitely appreciate the slightly Soviet influences of the time.

Anyway this is a very worthy and fun Museum and I made a commitment to go more often and to get involved. I am a member at the V&A – I love the building and it has some world-class exhibitions on a monthly basis. But in terms of fashion and costume it is in danger of going for the money rather than the learning – I felt this about the shoes and underwear exhibitions. In contrast the MoL manages to combine social history, local stories and incredible artifacts – for example in this short article on artificial Victorian flowers. 

Thank you Beatrice and David for giving me such a brilliant insight into one of our great costume collections.

Me Made May 2016

I have been “doing” Me Made May 2016 for a week now, which involves wearing something i made everyday and getting a photograph.

I have completed the first week. The photos are taken by my husband, my PA, the sales manager at Royal Albert Wharf, my boss and my daughter. Thanks for that!

Looking at the seven out fits I must conclude that clothes, in the UK, are always about the weather.

These pictures, taken over seven days,show how the weather affects what we wear. Day 1 (Sunday) was a nice sunny day but not too warm, and we had our lunch outside with stepson Ben, Mel and Maia. By Monday it was really cold again for our visit to the Hindu temple. I had on lots of layers, including a big scarf. On Tuesday (back to work) I wore a jacket over a jumper and my thick tights. But by Tuesday it was starting to get warm. But I am still in the thick tights just in case it gets cold on the way home. By Wednesday, although I have on my jacket I have dispensed with the tights and I have bare legs for the rest of the week. But the lemon jacket and pink cardigan are worn as it is not that hot. But by Saturday (day 7) it is hot and sunny and the kids are in shorts and I have bare arms! My Australian friends and work colleagues find the discussion of weather, and the pure excitement and joy about sunshine, funny. You know how we buy more “soft top” cars than the European countries that actually have warm weather, and “put the roof down” at the slightest provocation. And in our parks you will see us in underwear sometimes, or with our skirts or trousers rolled up to allow the rays to touch our skin. With only 26 sunny days a year we try to get out in it as much as possible.

sunbathing in St James Park
Sunbathing in the park

I also notice that I wear much lighter and brighter colours when the sun is out (and I am someone who avoids black and tries to get colour into the wardrobe daily). The first half of the week it is grey, navy, mid blue and deep red. Then out comes the lemon, light pink and white.

The other thing is about how clothes fit into your life. One day I got a picture taken of me actually working.  I love this picture of an outdoor meeting (on the upper floor of the car park at the Stratford Centre) where I am talking to Kate Hofman. Kate is the CEO of GrowUp box. I want to bring this fantastic idea to one of our new developments in East London. I don’t really like posing as a “model” for the clothes – for me context is everything. My working clothes are more formal than the weekend outfits, but it is subtle difference for me. Weekends are not too slobby, and work is not at all formal. But as the CE of my organisation it is important that what I wear is congruent with our values and purpose (the provision of low cost housing in London, plus property development to fund it).

Grow Up Kate Hofman
With Kate Hofman of GrowUp Urban farms
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