After a long month of “Me Made” in May I wanted to reassert my style choices. So this month I have mainly worn ready to wear options that I feel are more stylish and contemporary than my old home-made suits and tops.
I announced my intention to find clothes that are
- Stylish and fashionable
- Rather plain
- Work appropriate
And I decided on a “uniform” made up of
- White shirt
- Small jacket
I was warned that my idea of a working wardrobe/uniform might be too restrictive.
Let’s have a look at some of the outfits I actually wore (you have seen two of these already) in a month that had some really hot days. On those days I reached for handmade summer dresses, of which I have a few. Otherwise I more or less stuck to the plan.
It is kind of samey, yes. But that was what I liked about the look. It was so easy to select, to wear, even to look after. The white shirt doesn’t even need ironing if it is hung up to dry, straight from the washing machine. The turquoise shirt is an early “Pink” version of these stretch shirts – a present from my brother. In fact I wore this shirt when I started at Notting Hill Housing 13 years ago! It is still a really nice, comfortable shirt.
Overall looking at my choices I would say the wardrobe is much more colourful and varied than I think you feared.
Here are my observations.
- Having a set of rules and a very much reduced wardrobe is liberating
- I don’t think about what to wear – I have been going for an almost random selection
- Each top goes with each bottom and both pairs of shoes
- The uinqlo stretch shirts are amazing and don’t need ironing
- I love neutrals, especially lighter colours on me (white and stone/beige)
- I seem to have worn more colour than I intended
- While trousers are not my very best look (as I am curvy with hips) they mean I can avoid hosiery and feminine footwear
- I feel a bit like a 1970s lady golfer or sports woman in some of these outfits
- In the sales I bought a light lilac trouser suit (Topshop) and a pair of wide turquoise trousers (Finery)
- I still need some better navy shoes…
So what do you think? I have had very good feedback from the family especially my husband Nick and son Gus. They both really like the new look. Somehow looking youthful, like a young man, is a better kind of youthful than trying to look like a young girl. The boyish look – with short hair, flat shoes, trousers, shirt and jacket – is somehow age appropriate but also fashionable. Gus made the point that this is a confident look on a par with men choosing a floral shirt or a pink suit. You have to be comfortable with your sexuality and self-image to depart a little from the rigid norms.
I maybe being very judgemental but I feel that many women my age do look a bit dated and old-fashioned. They stick with what they know – hair cut, hair colour, make up, colours and wardrobe. Although my look is far from radical it is slightly unusual, but I am getting very comfortable with it and plan to stick with it.
None of this is “me made”. I could make most of these items. Indeed I have copied the Vivienne Westwood jacket and I have a good pattern for trousers. But RTW seems to fit me at the moment, and I like the opportunity to try before I buy. Also making a nice jacket, say, is time-consuming and rather expensive in terms of fabric and other materials. My beige jacket cost less than £25 and the new lilac one cost £30. And most of the trousers above cost about £25, as did the shirts. I can’t justify the expense or time to make these items which fit as good as I can fit myself. For now I am only going to make something if it is amazing, interesting, completely unique, or for a special occasion.
On the other hand I don’t see RTW jerseys that I like very much and I am finding handknits great fun to make and wear. I am getting towards peak jersey now (although I want to make a cardigan and most of the Elizabeth Zimmerman options seem to involve cutting – eeek! or should I say steek!)
There will be sewing on this blog, but maybe not as often as others. I have got some patchwork to show you – but it is a bit underwhelming. The course ends this week so I will show you what I have done. And then I will be choosing my autumn course!
Jenny K. Lyon
Oh I love this look on you! And you are right, it’s a little bit edgy without trying too hard. I find it hard to believe that you have curvy hips!
Great thought provoking post. I love seeing the evolution of your look. It’s also a reminder not to get stuck in a rut, and think about my own style direction. Also in terms of buying clothes, I’ve also recently bought trousers and a jacket, for less money than it would have cost to make them. I do want to sew up a lot of my fabric collection, but will stick mainly to dresses and unusual one off items.
This works well for you and is very practical. It’s so true that shoe comfort dictates the look – much easier to achieve with trousers.
You look great, contemporary and smart, I hear you about dated looks, I see that everywhere, of course it doesn’t apply to me (!). It’s been fun and interesting seeing how you decide what to make/do. I think you’re right to expand your knitting experience as that is personally and practically more rewarding for you just now. I know that if your inspiration takes a different tack, you’ll follow where it leads because that’s exactly how you work best.
I think I need a Uinglo shirt, *sigh*
I really like this look on you – fresh and contemporary; whilst not necessarily ticking fashion boxes. I think this will also transition well into colder weather fabrics as well. Winter white wool for a jacket, maybe ? A like the idea of a uniform, maybe choosing a different one for each season so you don’t get bored ? I also love seeing how your ideas develop.
It’s great that you are trying a new style and way to build a wardrobe. Sewing our own jackets and pants are time consuming and expensive and in my opinion often don’t look as good as RTW which is not a criticism really because we don’t have access to specialised machines etc they use to achieve the finish. I agree it is easy to get stuck in a rut – I know I hold onto old clothes just because I made them. Sometimes too I get the impression in sewing blog world that it is frowned upon to buy clothes but I think flexibility in all areas is important . I hope you may still blog your thoughts on a RTW wardrobe rather than just your made creations as many people love your blog. Also any word on little Jessica ? So much tragedy in London in a short time.
It’s her 13th birthday today, wherever she is. Beyond sad.
Oh sorry , I just read your last post about Jessica. So sad . I hope to never lose a child – the worst thing anyone could go through.
I don’t think these outfits look overtly like a uniform at all, and of course very flattering. For some reason, the beige pants, aqua shirt and creamy jacket one is probably my favorite, perhaps because it looks summery to my hot climate accustomed eye. Looking forward to the lilac suit! They also look quite feminine and sound easy to care for.
SO as long as you don’t miss having a sewing project on the go (I would……not that my completion rate is very high but I like having something to futz with.
Oh dear – I do have a sewing project on the go – a red coat! I do wonder if I will get it finished in time for autumn. However my sewing room is coming along well, with my husband constructing a cupboard and sewing desk at the moment. I think that will give me the momentum to get cracking again. I hope so.
I think you really own this look. To my eyes it ticks a lot of boxes. Comfortable, practical yet ticking the stylish/chic box. I am not sure that uniform really applies as it looks like fun. Which means, I think, that you are feeling very comfortable and yourself in what you are wearing. Nice.
Thank you very much Christine.
These photos of you look energetic, capable and put together in a more casual way probably largely due to the summer palette. I will be really interested to see how you transition into fall and winter. Overall, very inspiring for me as you look very comfortable within your own skin as the French like to say. What a successful initiative for you!
I have been a bit warm in some of these outfits when it hots up, and a bit chilly when it doesn’t so I haven’t quite got that right. I usually find autumn and winter easier as the layered look is somewhat easier. I will do an update later in the year – thank you for the suggestion.
I love the look on you, and you could very easily start making your own pieces. For example, don’t you think a pink wool or silk blazer would look fabulous?
Lynn – thank you! I was reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles earlier this year and Hardy mentions her summer jacket was pink. And this made me really want to make a pink, summer jacket – probably in linen. But I needed to find the right fabric. I have been looking for a light pink in a fairly heavy linen, but haven’t yet found anything suitable. So the beige jacket was a stand in until that point!
I love the new work look! Crisp, fun, fresh and youthful. As for knitting, I have yet to steek–eek indeed!
Your new ‘uniform’ looks very stylish – plenty of options from a
limited number of items, all of which work well together. I especially like the beige jacket, that looks to be a really useful neutral addition to the wardrobe.
I’ve been wondering how your foray into patchwork went – looking forward to seeing the photos!
You look great in trousers. I particularly like your 6th form special, though I’d prefer it with black leather lace-ups or trainers.
Some of my outfits have been inspired by school uniform. I think the boys at Eton look particularly chic (until they spoil it in the 6th form with their fancy waistcoats). I also love, and have been inspired by, the unisex uniform of Hill House prep in London. The French schoolgirl look that inspired Mary Quant at the outset – plain dark dress, white collar and cuffs – is a look I’ll never tire off. And I love a pinafore. (I’m small, so I think I can wear some things that I couldn’t if I were tall.)
Thanks for reminding me about the Ginger Group/Mary Quant girlish/French school dress. Without a doubt petiteness is helpful for the gamine and youthful looks.
Well done for finding a comfortable look that also feels like you, I think that’s ultimately what we all aspire to. I remember loving the androgynous look in the 80s but in my case at the time it was more like young girl looking like a little boy. My poor father had a lot of his suits appropriated and remodeled with my fledgling dressmaking skills.
I love the new look and the first one is my fave.
I think Gus’ comment is spot on. You have the confidence (and pretty face) to pull off this look!
It’s easy to demonize RTW – but, as you have shown, it has a place. Why sew if you can buy what you want and it fits? Your June wardrobe looks to have been very practical but also shows your character. You will see what you want when the time comes.
I agree that cutting into knitting sounds terrifying :0