Thinking about the casual wardrobe Part 3

posted in: Designing, Inspiration, SWAP | 15

My friend Joyce made a great suggestion.

Why don’t you make your weekend wear to suit your new house on the water front? Why not have this setting for your next collection?  A wardrobe that suits the location and lifestyle – in your colours – the clothing in the vibe of your new home!

Since she came up with this idea I have found myself fascinated by the concept of a “country weekend wardrobe” inspired by the lake side location of our holiday home.

Lakeside Views at Rainshore

The house is coming along, and is due to be finished by Christmas. And Christmas is the time when the Sewing with a Plan kicks off. So I think this is a super idea for next years SWAP. Joyce has already suggested the twist – by the water – that has got me thinking.

I want to do the SWAP again (I dropped out this year as my collection never caught fire). I want a challenge. So while I appreciate how much many other sewists get a real kick out of quick and easy patterns, made on the overlocker from stretchy fabric, I prefer slow sewing. Taking my time. Thinking it through. Making the patterns myself probably. Getting a good fit even if the garments are less structured. Looking for great, interesting fabrics that don’t cost too much.

Following my last post where I concluded that I wanted a wardrobe that is

  • comfortable
  • simple
  • elegant
  • made from nice, luxurious, soft fabrics
  • pared down, mix and match
  • in a restricted palette, with good neutrals
  • stylish
  • smart
  • sophisticated and classy
  • striking, stylish and different
  • well fitted

The images below are are stylish women wearing casual clothes, giving the kind of feel I am looking for.

While mainly based on separates I thought a pinafore dress and a jumpsuit (which could also be the sort you were a top underneath) might be useful. The illustrations below are from Topshop – just indicative of the garment type.

I want the following items for a versatile, multi-seasonal wardrobe. loose fitting trousers

  1. loose fitting trousers 1
  2. loose fitting trousers 2
  3. loose fitting trousers 3
  4. jeans
  5. unstructured jacket
  6. sweat shirt
  7. long sleeved T shirt 1
  8. long sleeved T shirt 2
  9. pullover jumper
  10. loose fitting pinafore dress
  11. jumpsuit/boiler suit

Although I am a classic dresser I do not like dull, predictable, safe choices. I love neutrals – white, lighter greys and navy. But I am wary of wearing light grey and beige as they can look a bit wishy washy and can (if you are fair skinned) make you blend into the background, especially as you age. I want colour and pattern too. I want to have a “look”, not just wear functional clothes. Again, as Joyce emphasised, without your job your brand is just yourself.

If I take Joyce’s suggestion that the collection should be inspired by the Lakeside I automatically think in terms of colour. My environment is

  • White
  • Grey
  • Navy blue
  • Green
  • Brown

What do you think? Do I need a skirt? Are the colours interesting enough or too neutral? Will these clothes look good as long as I have the right shoes and hair cut?

I need more outwear, but at present I am thinking my existing wet weather clothes are fine.





15 Responses

  1. Jenny Stead

    Hello Kate,
    I haven’t commented before, but I have been following your blog for some time.
    I live in Warwickshire and walk our dogs by a lake. To complement your colours, take a close look at the colours of the water birds eg. The stunning teal of the mallard, beautiful soft pinks and greys of pigeons, etc.

  2. Jay

    Jenny has articulated my thoughts, there are certain to be some splashes of bright colour, in the flowers in summer as well as the wildlife she mentions. Also, you’ve picked a grey day to take the photo, how does the lake look when it reflects a blue sky with some fluffy white clouds floating across, and the sunlight hitting the ripples? Your colour palette could work if you found just the right tones of the neutrals, but giving yourself a bit more freedom to add brighter colour might make it easier to avoid dull, dull and more dull. You’ve done some experimental printing and dye work in the past as well as some embroidery – could some textile embellishment find its way into the plan? Something to make the statement that this is not rtw. The unstructured jacket could be a focus for some textile techniques, and your pattern drafting might come in there. I do like the way you don’t just churn out basic styles in jerseys, useful though these garments are it’s nice to see the boundries pushed a bit. Shams (can’t call to mind her blog address at this moment) always surprises with fabrics and details and has done a few casual outerwear garments that don’t scream “off the rail”. Your previous SWAP, the abandoned one, included some great ideas with pretty bits.

    • fabrickated

      The photograph shows typical English weather I feel. Sometimes we have bright blue skies, but generally it is a bit overcast, and misty. However as you say splashes of colour will look great against this kind of cool, neutral backdrop – it is asking for pink or red in my opinion. I was thinking maybe the shoes and other accessories could bring in the colour.

  3. Ruth

    Yes Kate, you need a skirt. You wear a lot of skirts and a Linton tweed knee-length would fit right in with the country-side. I can’t believe you’re thinking about SWAP……

    • fabrickated

      I do wear a lot of skirts, including tweedy ones, at the moment Ruth – most days. But I so associate them with a working wardrobe. I think my casual wardrobe is more sporty? I will have a think. I am not really thinking of SWAP – its just I hope we will be able to go to the country house in December which fits in with the timing. I already have a kind of “capsule wardrobe” based on the classics like jeans and a leather jacket sketched out too!

  4. Stephanie

    This is fascinating, Kate. I guess it depends on the activities you will be undertaking in these clothes and during what season. This should be a great process of figuring out what is interesting enough for you but that still fits the brief. I am curious to see how this will evolve, though somewhat surprised that you are thinking of SWAP already! I am leaning towards not doing SWAP next year as I also like taking my time and focusing on special projects. I felt mine was forced this year as a result. The most used items from my SWAP are probably the casual but still me ones- the jumpers and trousers- so I think you are on to something.

  5. Joyce Latham

    I was wondering just what approach you would be taking for this project? And naturally, it wasn’t what I was thinking, ha ha ha. I wrote some questions about it on the last Rainforest post…I thought maybe you’d go with the painting and chair inspiration?…teehee…or a room? Or an occasion….but it’s the landscape ….fabulous, fun fun fun. I see your grey as fog. :- ) don’t you have a lot of fog there, mist, like in the paintings?
    I think using the swap is excellent. It will work !
    I suggest you just limit your basic netural one item, and allow yourself the freedom of some colour. I admire the thinking that goes into your planned sewing, always fun to read about yo keep us posted!
    Fun fun fun
    Till we chat again,

  6. Kerry

    Absolutely your casual wardrobe should have a ‘look’ that is you, is comfortable, stylish, with a bit of an edge to it – and colour. It doesn’t need to be boring. Yes to skirts and the loose fitting trousers, and the pinnie sounds great (with a long sleeved t-shirt underneath). For me, the key to dressing casually is having garments that are easy to care for; no dry cleaning. I like flat shoes or stylish trainers which I wear under jeans and trousers and with leggings or tights under a skirt. You could even wear a skirt or pinafore with gum boots if out walking in muddy conditions.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks so much for your thoughts Kerry. I think the footwear is key to making the outfits look, as you say stylish and a bit edgy, while retaining that easy comfort. And yes I like the “English” look of a dress or skirt with wellies, a thick cardi and raincoat.

  7. Ellen

    I’ve been reading (and loving!) your blog for a while now. Always a treat–thank you!

    I’m especially interested in this idea: I’m a fifty-something woman working in high tech in Seattle, where the dress code is casual and the culture youthful (and where there are, in is most tech companies, fewer than 20% women in product development). As a result, the wardrobe piece is tricky! I need to look younger than I am, be casual to fit in, but also project authority–all as a minority in a leadership position. I’m also a bit rounder than I would like to be, so finding RTW clothes that fit and are flattering is a challenge, and my budget won’t allow me to just buy everything at Eileen Fisher. I started sewing in earnest when I moved to a new company a year ago, and needed to up my wardrobe game.

    The casual wardrobe examples you show here are exactly the look I am after. I’d love to expand my skills to be able to make the crisp, tidy outer layers that take a casual pair of jeans and a t shirt and make it snap into attention. I look forward to seeing this develop, as I’m starting to plan the new few months of garment making, now that I have a cache of perfect woven shirts and skirts.

    • fabrickated

      Hello Ellen – so nice to hear from you. Thank you for your encouragement. I look forward to your input as I am after exactly the same things as you. It’s a challenge.

  8. Gill

    I’d definitely add a skirt – how about a flowing jersey maxi skirt, or a cord/denim skirt with pockets – a Megan Nielsen Brumby could be good?

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