I did the fourth week of MMMay17 but I had some phone problems so I can’t show you the pictures, except one. Here I am with a nice old 1960s Kimono sleeved jacket in the softest lemon wool. All the rest are on Instagram. I am hoping I will be able to post a few more recent pictures soon.
So. For a full month I wore one hand-sewn item and one hand-knitted item each and everyday. I have not yet reached the dizzy heights of making everything I wear. Never made a bra, never made tights, never made knickers. I have made my gym kit, lots of tailored items and coats, but never rainwear. I have made jeans, and men’s wear, and I have created lots of textiles in passing. I am proud of my achievements, but I don’t think I am going for the gold medal of this one. Happy with the bronze.
So what was MMM17 all about for me? This year it was really useful for thinking about handmade knitwear. However I found the exercise a bit of a strain. What it did to me was made me question what I am wearing and do my clothes bring me joy?
I know I can make virtually anything I want – nothing is denied to me as I can sew. And knit! But what do I want?
I want to create a really small, orderly wardrobe that is
- fashionable and stylish
- crisp and clean
- authoritative enough for work
- rather plain
That should be easy!
Fashion and style
MMMay17 revealed my current wardrobe is looking dated. I want a more modern look. This is important to me.
Before I sewed I would not worry about passing on last seasons’ outfits (darling!); these days I feel a real wrench taking my hand made wardrobe to the charity shop. So I wear things which are quite nice but I don’t love (Marie Kondo has alot to answer for).
Maybe I am shallow but I love novelty, style, new ideas, new colour combinations and ideas – fashion in other words. Just one year ago I wouldn’t have worn trainers for work, but now (in London) this look is stylish and normal. A few years ago I wouldn’t have worn a trouser suit as they looked old-fashioned and dowdy, but now they look great. Overall, especially for work, business casual has become the norm and formal, corporate wear has negative connotations. If you want to look young and engaged you need to pay some attention to changing trends – I am beginning to worry I don’t have enough culottes or cold shouldered blouses in my wardrobe! But seriously dated dressing is aging.
I do have a silver leather skirt!! And a shorts suit!! These items are a bit unusual and I wore them in May and I like them. But I wish the silver skirt was shorter and the shorts a little tighter. In the 1930s women were forever altering their clothes to give them a “new lease of life”, “making do and mending” “retrimming” their hats and crocheting a new lace collar for their sole afternoon dress. I do appreciate the thinking here, but it is not me. Instinctively I am a chucker, a thrower, someone who gets rid of things when they no longer suit me. I really want a clear out.
Crisp and clean
Which brings me to my second point. In wearing “Me Made” I noticed that a number of my items were tatty. Is that because they were often worn, or badly made? Not finished properly, or just inferior to RTW? All the lovely, natural fibres I go for in my dressmaking may not be as durable as I think. Two of my unlined cotton skirts have not held up to wear and tear. I really don’t want to give them up (they are made of nice, thick, stretch cotton from Roland Mouret), but I am a bit ashamed of the finish.
For years I laughed at people who wore leggings, T shirts, shorts with elasticated waists and trainers – and never went to the gym! I previously opposed the sloppy idea of a dress down Friday. To be honest at one stage I would have said wearing a cardigan to work was a definate no no.
I kept my shorts and trainers for gym, and wore proper skirts, jackets, tights and formal shoes for work although I did have an anorak (rather than a proper coat), and often chose a long sleeved T rather than a shirt, to avoid ironing.
Now that standards at work are unravelling, and business casual is the norm (ties are beginning to look a bit odd in my office) I find myself caught up in the desire for comfort. If I haven’t an external meeting on a Friday I do sometimes wear my jeans. (For years I didn’t even wear jeans). And in terms of “active wear” the penny has finally dropped. These garments are ideal for less active wear too. Even inactive wear (lolling around on a sofa) feels better in stretchy, soft stuff. Gym wear is of course specifically designed and constructed so it doesn’t chafe, restrict or constrict. Anything made of stretchy jersey is supremely comfortable. So it makes perfect sense to wear clothes that stretch when you do, don’t dig in, and give you a sense of well being. I mentioned that at weekends I often wear leggings and long sleeved Ts from Uniqlo, and in summer I am wearing gym shorts, sports bra and top – cotton or wool, depending on the weather. I seem to have gone super-casual, all of a sudden.
So I need to think about work – comfort but with sufficient authority. I am inspire by these looks.
Earlier in my career having authority meant – for women – wearing a white shirt and a navy suit, with a knee length skirt, dark tights and court shoes. For men too – a navy suit, white shirt, silk tie, dark socks and black leather shoes. Once a week I may still have to dress like this – a board or City meeting for example. But most of the time I want to look stylish, crisp and comfortable but still have the edge in terms of authority. I could not chair a meeting in gym gear. But I believe there is an answer. My Business Casual post covered some of the ground.
Like many dressmakers I have a penchant for the colourful, the patterned, the shiny and the novel. What I find myself wearing most often is of course – the neutrals – especially navy and grey, using scarves, belts, tights and jewellery to introduce colour and individuality. I want a wardrobe that is essentially plain. If we are going for comfort then we have to find the authority elsewhere and neutrals and deeper colour do this.
I will be thinking about a modern, fashionable capsule wardrobe over the next couple of weeks, before I readjust my sewing/knitting/shopping plans.
In the meantime – do you feel your look is a bit dated? Do you yearn for comfort? What about plain and simple shapes and colour schemes? Do you have the answer?