Many of us focus on clothes with interesting style elements – each garment is different. The pattern companies encourage us in this, so we go on buying more patterns. And many of us like to make something ‘different’ each time we sew.
But there’s a completely different approach to ‘looking interesting’. Janice of The Vivienne Files has one of her thought provoking pieces, on a ‘creative’ group of people who wear ultra-basic clothes, and add all the interest with accessories – scarves, hats, belts, jewellery, eyeglasses, gloves, socks, shoes. . .
Here’s her post. She picks a basic wardrobe to use as an ‘unnoticed’ background for interesting accessories.
Emphasise the quality – this needn’t be a way of looking cheap and scruffy.
These base garments are very simple to copy.
Janice picks 12 items, in 4 groups of 3 :
Sweater knits – turtleneck (UK polo neck), classic twinset – all in black
Cashmere to underline the quality. There’s a lot of poor quality cashmere in catalogues and on-line – feels worse than good merino wool. You do need to touch and handle it to find the good stuff. Only then do you understand why cashmere is such a prestige fibre.
Crew neck tees – white, grey, black
Shirts – white, chambray, and shirt jacket in denim
(Judith Rasband in a recent e-mail advocated classic denim shirts and relaxed fit white silk shirts as good additions to any wardrobe this season.
P.S. Janice has multiple other outfit suggestions for wearing a denim shirt, here.)
Pants – chinos and slim jeans/ pants – tan, black, dark indigo
(Several stylists recommend adding to your jeans this season.)
Photos from J. Crew - of course you can get similar basics from many sources.
(P.S. This wardrobe has focus on cool colour – blue. Janice has now posted a similar basic wardrobe in warm colours here. It’s a bit short on layers for me – I would add a tan shirt-jacket.)
Even for the most basic styles, it’s a good idea to use recent patterns – for current proportions and shoulder shaping.
(I’ve assumed you buy the sweater knits.)
Crew neck tee (instead use your most flattering neckline).
Kwik Sew Kwik Start 3766.
Palmer-Pletsch new unisex shirt (make a larger size with flapped chest pockets for a shirt jacket), McCall’s 6613.
Many other shirt patterns available if you want something with a bit more individuality. And many independent designers have tee/ shirt/ pant patterns with interesting details. But that isn’t the point here. These clothes are background – basics which don’t draw attention, so they don’t distract from the individual choice of accessories.
Chinos, Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6361.
Slim pants and jeans, Butterick 5682.
Or use Wendy Mullin’s Sew U and Sew U Home Stretch pattern books – she’s an example of a designer who aims for a ‘creative’ customer group. Her books are about being creative with clothes, but the starting points she gives are the most basic styles.
Classic shirts and jeans can be quite challenging to sew. It’s possible to start with similar but much easier styles, such as beginner patterns :
Kwik Sew Kwik Start 3475 camp shirt.
Kwik Sew Kwik Start 3314 elastic waist pants with side-seam pockets.
Does this idea appeal ? or does the thought of having to wear such simple casuals appall you Don’t forget people using this approach look much more interesting than the clothes in the basic wardrobe, as they add their individual accessories.
Getting style interest by wearing the simplest clothes and adding all the creativity in accessories is the opposite of all the books and independent patterns which tell you how to use a simple starting point to make a wide variety of clothes styles.
There are of course many ways of adding more variety to a small group of clothes. I have a post planned on some of them.
Also very easy to change this clothing group to different personal styles, by changing the shirt-jacket to a more arty or prettier jacket style, or replacing it with a blazer. Post planned on this.
If you do like this approach – what are your favourite accessories, to add interest to these very basic clothes ?
I have a post planned about accessory styles.
Well, are you an accessories person ? Have you got a closet full of bags, or shoes, hats, scarves, belts, gloves, statement jewellery. . . Would these simple garments be a way for you to build the most basic of wardrobe starting points, to use as background to all these exciting elements ?
Or perhaps you’re someone who has difficulty picking up any interest in accessories, and find clothes with minimum style elements very boring
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Patterns and links available September 2012
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Wheee – 150 posts (since August 2009).
As I don’t include huge photos, videos, music – I’ve only used 0% of my allocated blog storage space ! Efficiency habits go back not just to the days of dial-up connection, but 30 years ago to my first ever personal computer (a Commodore PET) which had 32k of memory and no hard drive. . .
Thanks for your continuing interest
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