Wardrobe Planning Upate

posted in: Style advice | 20

I reached the end of Me Made May in state of some dismay; my largely me made wardrobe was bringing me dissatisfaction rather than joy!

I felt it was static, failing to evolve with the rest of the world. For MMM17 I wore things that (photographic evidence being rather reliable) I had also worn for MMMay16. Although this may imply style-satisfaction, or that I am frugal and sensible, I am nothing of the sort. I know what suits me, I understand style and colour but I also hanker after novelty and freshness. Ceci commentated that on a long holiday with a small wardrobe she just got bored with it. There is a reason we feel a strong need to buy/make new clothes.

I had an overwhelming urge to throw it all out and start again.

A few commentators said the same – I am not really sure where this urge comes from. It is more than adverts and consumerism. I think it is part of our human condition that we like to dress up – emulating others we want to be like or look like, or conversely we want to set trends and influence the world. And perhaps a built in aversion to being satisfied.

My objectives were more specific. I outlined a set of requirements for my weekday wardrobe (for weekends anything goes)

  • fashionable and stylish
  • authoritative enough for a senior manager working in a modern, cosmopolitan setting
  • comfortable
  • neat and tidy
  • rather plain

I have tried to work through what I want and need.

Now you may remember my slight obsession with trainers during MMM, where I noted that on most days I had big, fat trainers on my feet. Thank you for commenting on the appropriateness of my footwear, and all the suggestions on how to choose comfortable but more work appropriate looks. However I have now decided I don’t want to change from walking shoes to workwear, as this involves carting shoes round in bags and having two personas.

I want my whole wardrobe that works with trainers!

Maybe that seems peculiar, but in the same way I once moved from heels to brogues and “masculine” lace ups at work (which was a little radical and usual at the time) I am now going to make the move towards trainers as my new normal, with the brogues (or sandals or even heels once in a while) as the exception.

I have been looking for the perfect trainers – which has been challenging with an hour wasted in Office in Oxford Street trying on just about every style – but not finding what I have in mind. I shall have to learn to make shoes at some point.

In the meantime I have been planning the rest of the look. I am moving away from variety, towards predictability/a uniform. I have chosen a look similar to the one my sons wore for Sixth Form.

  • Trousers
  • White shirt
  • Leather belt
  • Small jacket (lightweight and colour for summer; darker shades and heavier fabrics for winter)
  • Trainers

I have chosen “male” looks here. I don’t want to dress as if I am a man, but there is something very compelling about the pared down, androgynous look of trousers, jacket and shirt/plain top.

Although I have habitually worn skirts for work and trousers at weekends, I have got to the stage where I want to wear comfortable but semi-formal trousers for work. Below I am wearing some pull ups from Uniqlo (that have elastic at the back!!). Or “WOMEN SMART STYLE ANKLE LENGTH TROUSERS”. I was aiming for this kind of thing with my disastrous Style Arc Talias.


Here are two or three initial attempts at dressing within my new rule. Two of them feature the same pants (the check ones are from Uniqlo), same jacket, and the same shirt with different belts and scarves. The beige jacket is more summery and fresh. However my belts seem to have a mind of their own in these photos! I may have to put belt carriers on these pants to neaten the look.

I feel this outfit meets the requirements of my brief. And Authority is achieved through the business shirt and jacket, the belt/scarf colour makes it feminine and adds a little personality, and the fact the trousers are checked gives a nod towards fashion/style. I may need to play around with the rules a bit more, but I felt good and really “myself” in these outfits. For an important evening meeting I wore my nice, blue brogues and took the look up a notch.

Shiny navy brogues (Finery)
Shiny navy brogues (Finery)

At the moment, being “summer”, I don’t need knitwear although it may be possible to use a tank top/vest, pullover or cardigan instead of a scarf for colour/individuality. I am going to experiment with the rules I have set. I don’t want many items in my wardrobe, so I will be seeing how many looks I can get with a limited selection of garments.


20 Responses

  1. felicia

    I like these looks. I think they look “fresher”, or “trendier” or “younger” than your previous skirts-with-thick-tights look. I like that white shirt plus light jacket in particular.

  2. Elle

    Hmm. I agree with Felicia that this looks fresh. I think you’ll need more variety though to avoid being bored and chucking the whole thing. Perhaps more variety in the white shirts. There are so many beautiful styes. Something softer perhaps would still fit the brief. Or color. I like the idea of having a “uniform” to provide a framework.

  3. Lyn

    I like the look and wonder if you will easily get bored of the sameness though?!

    I was in Belgium recently and saw lots of lovely trainers – the kind you are looking for from your description. A hop over on Eurostar might solve your problem. We were in Spa. Good luck with your search x

  4. Annie

    This looks more ‘put together’ yet smart and not too constricting, it’s versatile too as it can be refreshed by colour, I too get fed up with clothes and to address that decided to build looks based on colour, currently French blue. In the autumn I’ll change to either russet or green, the shapes and silhouette will remain the same, bog standard A line skirts and straight legged trousers.

    A quick Google found these, pricey but a notch above the traditional trainer, https://axelarigato.com/uk/women/shoes/running-sneaker

  5. Emma

    Just saw a woman hopping on the train wearing what looked there be a soft brogue with a white trainer like sole – and thought of you! Hope you come up with a suitable and pleasing capsule wardrobe 🙂

  6. Thesewingmiserablist

    I like this too. Androgynous looks are very much in at the moment, so it’s definitely updated your style but I agree with others about adding a little more colour maybe using shoes, handbags and scarves. Clarks have some great trainer-feeling but more shoe looking styles at the moment in lovely colours.

  7. ceci

    This seems like an exciting beginning to a new pattern. In my extensive sitting around thinking time lately it occurred to me that the trouble with sneakers/trainers is the contrasting sole – that is what makes them look “wrong” to me with business clothes. Thus the ones Annie shared seem ideal – I didn’t look at the price which might be a disqualified…. And I’m even sicker of my trip clothes as we go into the 3rd week – what possessed me to grab up the things I did…..?


  8. Michelle

    You seem to have ticked the boxes with your new work look, and if the outfits make you feel good too, you must be well on the way to solving your dilemma. There’s a lot to be said for a ‘uniform’, whether it’s compulsory or one that the wearer devises to suit their individual requirements. I love the check trousers, and the splashes of colour you add (including your glasses!) add that extra touch to the outfits. Are you planning any sewing to fill in gaps in the new work wardrobe?

  9. Lynn Mally

    Well, as a lover of jackets and pants this new outfit direction appeals to me. What is lost, though, is your wonderful sense of color. What about a pink jacket? (PS I really liked your MMM clothes).

  10. Claire

    These looks on u r fabulous. I think u r achieving your goal with great fashion sense. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to get to where u want to b. U have definitely upped your game with these changes. Again, great look on u!

  11. Coni

    I like your new look also. I do hope you won’t stop wearing your curvy pencil skirts. I think they are very flattering and the colors are gorgeous! I recently found your your blog and enjoy reading it very much. I would love to be the seamstress you are. Any tips for beginners would be greatly appreciated!

  12. Bunny

    I’ve always been a fan of this look and a devotee of white shirts. You can never have too many! It was my favorite look back in my “suit” days.

    But I could not wear this look every day. I could make the white shirt work with all sorts of other garments but I also craved the variety of pattern and color and as a sewist, just went for it. Organized wardrobing was never my thing. I could like quite put together in my Calvin Klein navy suit and white shirt but the next day I loved working in a lovely floral dress, jacket on top. Don’t we all crave this variety? I’m with Lyn. I am afraid you may get bored.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks Bunny. I think you might be right. But I am going to try it for a month and see how it feels. At the moment I am loving the idea of a much smaller range of clothes.

  13. Wardrobe planning – Ruth Creates

    […] Kate has been evolving her wardrobe recently, and is looking to pare down her wardrobe into a small plain coloured almost capsule wardrobe. I love a lot of the colourful suits and hand painted fabrics she has made and think it would be a shame if she didn’t wear those again. […]

  14. talliswoman

    I think that this new look is great. Very sharp and business-like without being boring. Plenty of food for thought in this post – it’s made me look at my own wardrobe with a fresh eye. Not sure quite where it might lead, but interesting. I also love the lemon kimono sleeve jacket you posted a little earlier. I’m working on a kimono sleeve jacket at the moment – although it’s not such lovely fabric. Perhaps we could start a trend!

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