‘Planning’ my sewing ?

Posted March 1, 2020 by sewingplums
Categories: style and planning

I haven’t written anything here about planning for some time, but I’ve just been taking a ‘sew your own wardrobe’ class which ended with advice and examples on making written notebooks with specific plans for your wardrobe and future sewing.

And there are all those stylists and indie pattern companies which sell printed or free-gift pdf books for writing out your sewing project plans, with one page per project. They’re often not loose-leaf so you can’t even mildly change your mind. And they never have space to record what I think is important.

Oh dear, I can’t work that way at all.

One of my difficulties with sewing plans is I’m a ‘100 ideas before breakfast’ person about what I would like to make. 
Also I’ve found in real life if I start on a plan, I wake up a week later to find myself doing the complete opposite (I gave up on making New Year resolutions for this reason some time ago – according to my notes here it was in 2013). 
 
I have managed to train myself to write my ideas down, instead of actually starting projects and then changing my mind, which began to be ridiculous –  a home full of boxes each containing a pattern and notions, and a huge fabric stash. 

The point at which I realised I had to stop starting projects was when I organised all my ‘to make’ pile into project boxes, and so was face to face with the fact it was beyond helpful. . .

”project

Each of those 12 drawers is a separate project. There are also several project start-ups which are bulkier so have an individual tub.

I now have a computer full of ‘make next’ lists instead.  Each time I take a sewing or wardrobing class I end up with extensive ’make next’ lists.  My ‘make next’ list from the most recent class contains about 70 items. . .  (Meg McElwee’s Mindful Wardrobe class, thought provoking.)
And my lists change so often, I find it much easier to use word-processing rather than a paper notebook/journal to record them.

I’ve also found it a great help to be secure about ‘my personal style’, so I’m not rushing after other people’s wardrobing lists and ‘develop your sewing skills’ pattern lists too ! 
 
By comparison, my actual sewing is very slow. So my focus needs to be on enjoying making, rather than on getting an ideal ‘me made’ wardrobe.

I’ve found it helps to have a good RTW wardrobe, so I’m not under pressure to make anything specific.  So I can just settle down to very slowly making items I’m fairly confident I will enjoy making and then using 😀 My making is best done in a ‘follow what I feel like doing now’ way, pre-planning and prioritising do not work for me here.  

And I’m also a quilter, and enjoy using my embroidery machine. Have just fallen for yet another Block of the Month quilt, but have managed not to purchase. Unmade BoMs made another big pile in my previous home ! Long list of embroidery machine quilts I’d like to make too. . . My embroidery designs folder is also huge. There too I’m now managing to buy designs for a specific project rather than scooping up every design I like the look of. Like patterns, they’re a good low-cost option for a little treat 😀 I’ve never been a compulsive shopper for clothes, but patterns, fabric, embroidery designs all need restraint I’ve had to learn ! Now I’m making lists on my computer of what catches my eye in those categories too, instead of buying.

Well, that’s my approach to recording sewing ideas and choosing between possible projects.

But, although this sounds like the opposite of what I’ve said so far, once I start working on a specific project I do find it essential to make a detailed list of each step involved in making it, especially any step that involves changes in tools or processes.  Those lists are on my computer too. 

’Sew the shoulder seams.’ Looks trivial enough, but – hmm, how many different steps does that involve – pinning, stitching, seam finishing, pressing – and there are changes of tools used and/or position in sewing space between each step.

Also I note my progress in detailed ‘e-diaries’ rather than on paper. 
So my sewing records are all on computer.

The organisers of the wardrobing course I’ve just taken are staunchly hand-written-paper-journal users. Ah well – that course has made me think I’m unconventional in an unconventional way. . .

Also ’sewing’ as the focus of my hobbies doesn’t just involve ‘making’.
What about all those very enjoyable ’sewing related’ activities which don’t get any making done : watching sewing videos, surfing pattern sites, reading sewing books, reading pattern instructions, changing patterns, blogging about sewing technique and about how to use my embroidery machine. Wandering between all those certainly is not planned. . .

There are other aspects of my life which are better sorted out on paper rather than computer, such as when I need lots of arrows to show connections, and would find doing it on computer very constricting. Especially using diagram-making software, which may be good for showing business plans, but I find very much constrains creative thinking.

And when I have deadlines I do much pre-planning and prioritising. But for fun hobbies, definitely not.

So what best to do to support my sequence of activities does very much depend on specifics of the task.

Best Wishes for finding your own way through the ever-expanding maze of possibilities for sewing, planning, and making records of both. 

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Finding your style 1 : using style categories

Posted August 22, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: personal style

Do you feel good in your clothes ? Do they help you to feel you ? to feel confident ?

From my patterns of spending money and time – I would have to say that exploring style advice is one of my hobbies ! So as usual my opinions on this topic kept spreading, and I’ve divided this discussion into sections. This first section is about using the style categories that stylists suggest for us.

– – –

Using style categories

Personal Style consulting is a big industry these days – in person, online, and in books. The consultant has a way of deciding what style category you come in, and then suggests clothes a person in that category may like to wear. The 4 styles usually included are classic, casual, romantic, dramatic. Then most stylists add other styles they think many people wear, such as boho, chic, cute.

Ignore it when stylists say you ‘must’ or ‘must not’ wear some styles at a particular age. You probably combine several styles, and you probably find the balance of styles changes with changes in life style in different decades.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t fit cleanly into anyone’s style categories. I’ve tried the systems listed in the next post (and many others), and I don’t fit neatly into 1, 2 or even 3 of the categories suggested. I’ve never found myself liking everything suggested for a particular style. Or I like the clothes but have a very different body shape or colouring from the typical shape or colouring described for this style. In the past I’ve spent too much time trying to force myself to fit into various simple ‘types’, instead of realising that the key to decision making is how I feel about it all.

Stylists suggest options for you to try, in your clothes and in your life. They give you permission to try things you may not have done before. But these suggestions are just a starting point, you choose if you want to go further with them.

The important issue is not which category you are in, it’s how what you wear and do makes you feel : when you wear this do you feel special ? do you feel confident ? do you feel true to yourself ?

The categories are just a guide in getting to that happy position. The stylist has picked out, from the rich range of clothing possibilities, some styles which may be more likely to help people in this category feel that way.

It doesn’t matter if your favourite garments and accessories are spread around in someone else’s categories. When you feel good about yourself, you’re too busy living your life to be bothered about what label describes you. At best the label just becomes a shorthand way of remembering your priorities, in clothes and in life. Such as : “I’m a 2/4 so I’m a double introvert and prefer very quiet clothes”, “I’m an INFJ so have a constant tug between kindness and perfectionism”, “I’m Soft and Sporty so I need practical clothes with flowing lines”.

– – –

Starting from what you love

After years of exploring stylists’ suggestions, I know that my clothes need to be comfortable, easy to move in and care for, with soft lines, ‘modest’ body coverage, of high quality in design/fabric/fit/make, in textured light neutral fabrics. For detail I like ‘heirloom’ stitching and cargo pockets. I wear bracelets and pins/ brooches, and flat shoes, and carry a basket rather than a handbag. My ‘uniform’ is a frilled blouse and slim pants with an oversized or smock-style layer or a padded vest.

Which of those descriptions did you respond ‘yes please’ to ? or ‘aargh, not for me’ ? 😀 What does that tell you about your own style ?

Clothes like that ‘say’ quite a bit about me.
some Personality words : practical, value quality, private, a little quirky.
some Style words : Casual Chic with a touch of Ingenue.
I don’t look child-like or dainty, but ‘Ingenue’ is a style word near to some of what I do like.

Many stylists don’t mention ‘Chic’, ‘Ingenue’, or ‘over-sized’. I also love smock styles, and I have yet to find a stylist who mentions them at all. Most stylists also don’t mention vests, another staple of my closet. Or my favourite jewellery items. . .
So most stylists don’t suggest what to wear for those styles, and don’t even remind people that some of my favourites are among the styling options.

”soft
A photo of favourite things, which I made years ago as a style exercise. These are embellishments, I wouldn’t wear them all at the same time 😀

It’s not surprising that stylists only mention styles that at least 10% of people wear. But that does mean that if you have some less popular elements of your own personal style, the big style advisors aren’t the people to look to for help with finding out more about your styling options.

The second post in this group focusses on some big styling sites.
Happily, there are many millions of us buying clothes and sewing patterns, so even minority styles are worth the attention of designers. The third post has some ideas for exploring beyond stylists’ categories.
And the final post has a little about looking at how well the clothes work for you.

– – –

So choose your clothes according to how you feel when wearing them, not according to which style category they might fall into. The categories are tools. They help the stylist point you towards clothes you are likely to feel happy wearing, they are not an end in themselves.

Of course it’s good to have that ‘this is my tribe’ feeling. But it’s not good to wear clothes that we don’t feel happy with, just because they’re in a category we have identified with. There are on-line presenters who identify so strongly with one of the style systems that they treat the person who devised it as a guru who can do no wrong and must be followed to the letter. But there is no ‘absolute truth’ about style. I don’t find that extreme attitude is helpful for many of us.

Use the categories for suggestions about things to try. And don’t expect the categories to include all your preferences. Make your own decisions about what works for you.

Going through all this is definitely not a quick fix, but it can have a big pay-off.

Very Good Luck with your explorations 😀

– – –

There are 4 in this group of posts about personal style. The others are :
2. on-line style advisors.
3. exploring styles.
4. trying on clothes.

– – – – –

August 2019

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Finding your style 2 : on-line style advisors

Posted August 22, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: personal style

Do you feel special in your clothes ? Do they help you to feel you ? to feel confident ?

There are many sources of personal styling advice :
– national styling companies with local representatives who do face-to-face consultations,
– in-store shopping advisors,
– on-line advisors, some of whom do personal consultations locally or on-line using Skype or photos,
– books – there are shelf yards of books on choosing your best clothes according to your colouring, body shape, and personal style. Here’s my post on my favourite styling books (written in 2013 so now a bit out of date).

The first post in this group was about what style categories can do for you, and how to use them.

This is about some on-line sources of advice about ‘best clothes for you’. Only a small selection, or this post really would be huge.
A long post with several main topics :
Stylists who advise about personal style, the clothes you are happiest wearing.
Stylists who advise about how you can best flatter your colouring and body shape.
Stylists who advise about planning a ‘capsule wardrobe’, a small group of co-ordinating clothes.

Of course most of these sites are set up to help people who don’t sew. But there are a few who give pattern advice, and I’ve noted them.

This ends with comments on what to do if you feel the stylists don’t cover your needs. There are no absolute rules about styling, so you won’t find all stylists suggest what works well for you. Try the ones who look as if they do, and if they don’t then move on. And not to worry if none of them do, there are many other ways of exploring your own style, see the next post for some ideas.

– – –

Personal style

Doctor T Designs – Kibbe styles – see Sew your Kibbe under the Wardrobe Planning tab. There’s a wealth of Kibbe-related guidance on the web. This site is good for sewists because it has extensive suggestions of sewing patterns for each style – for casual, work, and special occasions.
No need to know your Kibbe style, just look through the patterns suggested for likely styles, and see if there’s a group you feel are ‘you’.
I like over-sized slouchy clothes, which here are categorised as ‘Flamboyant Natural’. I’m not the physical type that is supposed to like these styles, nor have I got a flamboyant personality. A good example of the styles being more important than the category name.

Inside Out Style from Imogen Lamport, for colour, body shape and personal style. She has a huge range of excellent free advice.
My favourite saying of hers :
“You want to love your clothes, and have them love you back.”
Her Style Manifesto might be a good starting point for your own explorations.
In the Evolve Your Style course there are daily challenges, a quick way of finding the limits to what you can happily wear – I refused the challenge on the days when she told me to wear bright red lipstick or high heels !
I enjoyed her ‘7 Steps to Style’ course, not free but rich with useful information on colouring and body shape.

Truth is Beauty and Fantastical Beauty can give you many ideas to try if your style is less mainstream.
Truth is Beauty is where I found my ‘Ingenue’ style word, though I certainly don’t dress like her ingenue examples.
I’ve never thought of myself as living in a fairy tale, but if you do then what fun 😀 . Fantastical Beauty could also help if you don’t know where to start with cosplay. This is an example of a site which gives advice only about a specialised group of style categories, she doesn’t attempt to cover the whole style range.

Here are a couple of other specialised advisors, at opposite ends of the style spectrum:
Stunning Style has good posts on five ‘classic style twists’ : minimal, edgy, sporty, cute, soft. Her detailed wardrobe guides are easiest to follow if you love classy classics and look good in ‘Winter’ colours.
While Stasia’s Style School encourages people who want to be boldly even wildly individual in their style.

You Look Fab has daily posts on style topics – fun to follow, but not the best place to start as a guide for your personal style search.

– – –

Flatter your body shape

As far as I know Imogen Lamport’s Body Shape Bible is the most detailed information you can find on-line about how to flatter your body shape : your silhouette, your length proportions, and your other special features such as large bust or rear.

But you may love styles which don’t flatter your body shape – well, not to worry, go for what you love. Here is Imogen’s post on why your personality is more important than your body shape in determining which clothes you look and feel best in.

Flatter your personal colouring

There are many on-line colour analysis services. Most of them do not mention grey hair, and if they do they often insist if you have grey hair you must have cool skin – so not for me.

Many people find this page from Cardigan Empire is a helpful starting point. For me, she’s just another person who doesn’t mention grey hair 😀

As screens, cameras and printers can alter colours, personal colour advice is not something that’s easy to do well on-line or from photos. I think courses which mail you physical comparison colour cards are better than courses using only virtual colours. 2 examples :
– the DIY Color Style Kit (mainly colour wheel colours), finds your colour type on the 3 dimensions warm-cool, bright-soft, light-medium-deep, using mailed reference cards, and assigns you to a category. Follow with her next level course, Discover your color style, which doesn’t use categories and works better for my mixed colouring. Includes detailed advice for grey hair and/or dark skin.
– the colour section of Imogen Lamport’s ‘7 Steps to style’ course – Inside Out Style, see top tabs – also mails colour cards. More subtle colours – sadly almost impossible to find in clothes or fabrics.
Both these have more sophisticated colour systems than a ‘season’ analysis.
Nancy Nix-Rice adds level of contrast and size of pattern to those 3 colour dimensions, and for many of us they are important.

Some colours are greatly affected by lighting. I have a khaki hoodie and boots which both look brown in some lights, green in others. And a greige poncho which looks grey in direct sunlight, beige otherwise. This might be important for you, for example if you test colours at home in natural light, but spend your working day in fluorescent light.

So the first colour issue is what colours flatter you – which colours make your skin look healthy and your eyes shine. I look like a living-dead-witch in black, not a good look for a special occasion. But the second important colour question is which colours you feel happy wearing. Here’s a post by Imogen Lamport on your colour personality.

Like my points in the first post, about style categories – the aim of colour categories is to support us in finding colours that we look and feel good in, not to force ourselves to fit into some colour category scheme ! I’ve spent time in my life trying to be a Summer, a Spring, an Autumn – the only season I’ve clearly never been is a Winter. Now with my cool grey hair, cool pink lips, warm tan skin, and warm brown eyes, I’m part warm part cool, part bright part soft, part light part medium. There are no simple rules for what colours are best for me, but I do try colour advice to see what is helpful. And actually with my ‘colour personality’ I mainly wear neutrals anyway. But not all neutrals – I look dreadful in black and in denim blue, and it’s surprising how many fabric stores sell only cool colours. . .

– – –

Wardrobe planning

A ‘capsule’ wardrobe is small group of co-ordinating clothes that can be mixed and matched to make different outfits. If you only have a small number of clothes, you want to be sure they fit the needs of your lifestyle. And that they’re all items you love to reach for in the morning – they suit your personality and make you look good. Hence the whole area of ‘wardrobe planning’.

There are 100s of people on-line telling you how to plan a capsule wardrobe. Stunning Style above is one. These are some of the others :
The Vivienne Files is a site bursting with methods for planning a capsule wardrobe, but most of the clothes shown are ‘normcore’ in style. There’s a big focus on colour co-ordination, but little on finding your most flattering colours. Excellent if planning or revamping your wardrobe are what you want to optimise, but little help with alternative styles.
Classy yet Trendy also suggests specific capsules, in 6 nearly-normcore styles : teacher, essential, workwear, athleisure, stay at home mom, French minimalist. The first 3 differ mainly in how formal the clothes are : all casual, some casual/some dressy, all dressy. ‘Athleisure’ is a little more sporty, ‘stay at home’ clothes have a little more softness, and the ‘French’ clothes are a little ‘edgy’.

Those sites have links to specific RTW items in the capsule.
Usually they recommend standard styles and there are many patterns which could be used to copy them. But the sites support shoppers not sewists.

The next capsule sites are for sewists and include pattern advice :
Nancy Nix-Rice has a video wardrobing class at Craftsy-Bluprint. She also has blog posts suggesting sewing patterns.
Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns has a Mindful Wardrobe course which combines : personal style/ colouring/ fit, devising a capsule wardrobe, the deeper issues of clothing and sewing as self care.
The Wardrobe Architect posts from Colette patterns are an interesting series of exercises on all aspects of choosing your clothes.
Seamwork on-line magazine with patterns has a Design your Wardrobe 3-week video class. Also from Colette patterns, you have to be a Seamwork member for access.

These next 2 classes have capsule and pattern suggestions, but don’t cover the wider issues of personal style, body shape, colouring :
Sandy Miller shows variations of Cutting Line patterns, at Taunton Workshops.
Sewing Workshop pattern’s Sew Confident series builds up a capsule wardrobe over the course of each year.

Most pattern books from indie pattern publishers don’t include wardrobe planning advice (lifestyle, personal style, colouring, body shape). This one does: Dressed from Deer & Doe patterns (in French only so far) has 9 downloadable pdf patterns claimed to be makable in an afternoon.

Many stylists tell you how to build a capsule, but that may not be best way of organising your wardrobe for you. Imogen Lamport has an interesting piece on whether you prefer capsule, formula, or uniform for your clothing. Nancy Nix-Rice also has a post about using a fashion formula. Even more simply, you may be an ‘outfit’ wearer, if you don’t want to have to mix-and-match clothes, and you always wear each item with the same other items. Or you may be someone who doesn’t want any limits to your style choices (though such people are unlikely to be reading this !). I’m a Uniform person – but you may love just going with the mood of the day 😀

– – –

Examples of ‘fails’ for me

I’ve so far mentioned some on-line stylists I have learned from. But there are ones I find less useful.

For me, Dressing Your Truth is very limited, I can rarely fit people I know into it. But people who aren’t used to the idea of having a personal style, or who want to be told what to wear, often find it a helpful starting point. It divides us into 4 Types according to how we mainly use our energy, basically : fun lovers, sensitives, achievers, perfectionists. Everyone of the same Type is supposed to wear the same season of colours : Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and have the same facial features. (There have been 100s of research studies looking for a relation between physical characteristics and personality, and none have ever found anything.) The wealth of human nature means there are more than 4 types of people, and people who do fit the 4 DYT Types do not all look good in the same colours. (30somethingurbangirl also pairs style type and colour season, but in a different way – these things are not set in stone !) However there are many free videos on the DYT site, which may help with getting a quick idea of where your tastes lie, and what to look out for when assessing clothes. I’m not a ‘believer’ in DYT, but I confess I enjoy watching the make-over shows.

Imogen Lamport’s 16 Style Types course, on dressing according to your MBTI personality type, is expensive (but then so is a personal consultation with a top stylist). I tried the shorter ‘Discover your style type’ version. I’ve never, in years of reading about it and trying tests, found which MBTI Type I am. From the indicators given in this course I am, as usual, ‘6 of one and half a dozen of the other’ on 2 of the dimensions. I tried 2 of Imogen’s reports and find one of them is a better fit than the other, but there is much in it that is not ‘me’ at all. Matches some of my attitudes to clothes and shopping, but there’s very little about specific styles to wear. Some people find this approach opens up important insights for them. I got good value from Imogen’s ‘7 Steps to Style’ course, but not here.

My Private Stylist has a section called What’s your style personality which is a good example that some stylists may not be right for us at all. She has a questionnaire which claims to guide you to 1 of 50 categories. But the first 2 questions are about shoes and all the choices have high heels, which I never wear. Then the next 2 questions are about dresses – I haven’t worn a dress in decades, and all the choices have a fitted waist, which I didn’t wear when I did wear dresses. So I don’t think going through the rest of the questions would be likely to lead me on a path of self-discovery. Of course many people love the clothes illustrated, but that’s not where I belong.

We just need to accept this will happen with some stylists, and move on.

– – –

If the main style categories are not ‘you’

You don’t actually need to know your style category. That doesn’t mean you have no style ! There are many other options for finding your own style, suggestions in the next post.

You might start with this list of style questions. If you have any preferences at all, you have a personal style 👍.

But if you do want to go further with getting advice from others, look at the suggestions from several stylists. For example, one person’s advice for ‘natural’ may not be the same as another stylist’s advice for ‘casual’. Stylists certainly don’t all agree. As an example, some stylists say that Casual and Chic are complete opposites, while others have a ‘Casual Chic’ category.

Style is a matter of judgement and opinion, not accurate measurement. This can be difficult for people like me, I prefer clear simple rules when I’m learning something for the first time (though I’m flexible later). That really is not possible with ‘style’. So look for stylists you feel you have something in common with, follow them as far as they can take you, but be prepared to move on.

April Grow at Stunning Style says there are only 3 rules : wear what suits your personality, wear what flatters your body, and don’t spend beyond your budget. The details of what works for us we have to explore. And some people might not agree even with those rules 😀

You may come across style words which you respond to, but which the general stylists do not give information about because the words only apply to a small percentage of people.
Search style words in google, pinterest, youtube.
Try : lagenlook, mori girl, folkloric, vintage, retro, prairie, pioneer, western, hip hop, grunge, punk, goth.
New style words emerge in each season and each sub-culture.
What is the style of your favourite movie or fantasy character ?
Would you like to look like Iris Apfel or the ladies with Advanced Style ?
Are any of the Folkwear patterns to your taste ?

Some people like to follow celebrity style. But celebrities have genes which mean they look good photographed from any angle, and my gifts lie elsewhere so I don’t feel I have much in common with them ! If you do like this idea, have a look at the celebrity outfits suggested by style ARC patterns.

Or start from images rather than words. Cherish and collect the images which do ‘speak’ to you.
Choose a pinterest image and see what pinterest suggests have something in common with it.

Also check for your own wardrobe needs. I wear mainly pullover layers and vests, and they’re rarely mentioned in wardrobe plans or by stylists.

– – –

Notice how you respond to a stylist. I’m a quiet person, and some stylists have such powerful personalities I feel knocked sideways from myself. Or they emphasise all my inadequacies as a way of convincing me I need their course. Despite their big claims, some of them make me feel lesser – those I’m learning to avoid !

Also beware courses which offer a styling ‘rescue fantasy’, suggesting that all the decisions have been made for you, and all your styling problems will quickly be at an end. This may be a good place for styling and capsule planning beginners to start from, but ultimately to get your style right for you, you do need to respond to your own feelings about the suggestions made. See the next posts for some ideas on making your style more personal to you.

Go along with any stylist who helps you feel you know what style direction to go in, but only follow them as far as they do. Once you start to feel you don’t fit in, thank them for what you have learned from them, and move on to look for more insights elsewhere. And one day you’ll find yourself making your own decisions 😀

May you enjoy yourself and have Good Fortune on this quest 😀

– – –

There are 4 in this group of posts about personal style. The others are :
1. using style categories.
3. exploring styles.
4. trying on clothes.

– – – – –

Links available August 2019

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Finding your style 3 : exploring your own style

Posted August 22, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: personal style

Do you feel ‘right’ in your clothes ? Do they help you to feel you ? to feel confident ?

How do you go about exploring which style is best for you ?
This may not be a quick and simple process.

Always attend to your inner voice. There are clothes you react to with love, clothes you react to with horror. But for many of us there’s a large range of possibilities where the effect is less clear-cut, so you have to ‘listen’ more carefully to whether you smile or cringe. Many advisors suggest you only buy clothes which score at least 8/10.

Sometimes when you ‘have nothing to wear’, are in a hurry, and don’t have easy access to good stores, this is not possible. But surely you don’t need to go lower than 5/10 !
Many of us wear casuals most of the time, so get caught out by the need for ‘special occasion’ clothes – have you got what you would need for a wedding, christening, funeral, ‘black tie’ event ?
Some of us have mainly workwear – so what would you wear to a football or hockey match ? a beach vacation ?
This is a situation where it’s good to have done some wardrobe planning. So you’re unlikely to be caught out by rare unexpected events, and have something wearable waiting in your closet for when they do occur.

– – –

Exploring style options and finding your own likes

In my experience, finding the clothes that are best for you is not a quick process. It needs some effort, but there are many things you can try.
At each step – notice how you feel about the clothes – do you want to wear them ? do they make you feel good ? or do they make you feel lesser ?

Imogen Lamport at Inside-Out blog :

You want to love your clothes, and have them love you back.

April Grow at Stunning Style :

If you’re trying to talk yourself into anything you don’t genuinely love to wear, just put it away.

There are many possible ‘exercises’ for noticing your own style.
Start with the activities you think you will enjoy.

Perhaps pick one of the free or cheap systems for choosing your style category and work through the exercises (see previous post for some links).

If that doesn’t work for you, the next methods don’t need you to have any idea what your ‘style category’ is, or which style words describe you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel ‘this is me’ with any of those stylists’ ideas. If you do fit a category, good, that saves much work as they suggest clothes you probably like. But if you don’t fit in with any particular stylist, that doesn’t mean you haven’t got a style 😀 It just means you have to do the searching for yourself, and be very aware of your feelings as you look at clothes or try them on (and have a good cry or rage if need be).

Explore Ready-To-Wear

– go through fashion magazines and catalogues and pick out pictures of clothes and accessories you feel good about. Try to avoid choosing ones you feel you ‘ought’ to want to wear !

– look at the designer collections during Fashion Weeks (vogue.com) (hmm, there are 100s of designers, that could be rather a big commitment). Different designers attract different types of customer, and most don’t design ‘everyday’ clothes, so don’t expect to like them all. Are there any that really appeal ? What are the elements of their designs that you respond to ?

– type a garment type in the search box at ShopStyle.com to see multiple current possibilities. This site is the ‘big secret’ of many on-line style advisors, they go here to find sources of an item they want to mention.

– look at the site of a big department store which carries fashion lines from many companies, and pick out the ones you feel at home with.

– enter a style word at pinterest and make boards of items and outfits you like the look of.

– pick an inspiring image at pinterest, and explore the pinterest ‘More Ideas’ and the other sources they link to.

– if you live somewhere where this is possible, go on ‘playshops’ : leave money/cards behind and go to a mall or big department store where there are many different styles and just try on clothes and notice how you feel about them.

Explore pattern lines

Butterick, Kwik Sew, McCall’s, Simplicity and Vogue pattern lines all belong to the same company and aim to appeal to different customers. Do you like one of them more than the others ? Or do you prefer Burda which has more ‘European’ style ?

– find an on-line store which has a good selection of indie patterns, such as :
US : Pattern Review, Vogue Fabrics.
UK : Dragonfly Fabrics, Minerva Crafts (scroll down left menu), Sewbox.
– and find companies which have good options for you.

There are also non-selling lists of indie pattern companies : With my Hands Dream (the names are links), The Sewing Directory.
Don’t expect these lists to be complete. (I gave up trying to keep a list long ago.) There are 100s of indie pattern companies, they come and go daily, but it can be good to find ones you like.

If your style is far from ‘average’ it’s worth following up pattern company links mentioned elsewhere, rather than depending on general pattern selling companies and lists. There may be some small low-sales-volume pattern companies which are just what you’re looking for. I found most of the patterns I’ve bought recently through a private FB board for my style.

– if you like the idea of wearing vintage style :
There are several companies which sell new versions of vintage patterns (Butterick Retro, Simplicity Vintage, and small specialist companies).
Or you could buy the original patterns.
Try searching something like ‘vintage sewing pattern company’ for many sources.

It would make life easier to be able to use only patterns from one company. I have tried that approach but it doesn’t work for me. I now have a pinterest board of my favourite patterns, and nearly every one is from a different company !

Personal evidence

– mark your preferences on this list of personal style questions to get an idea of what style elements you like to wear.

– do a wardrobe sort and remove all clothes you don’t feel good about. They do rather attract your attention when you look in your closet, which is not a happy effect ! If the clothes were expensive, or you like them but they’re the wrong size, at least put them somewhere where you don’t have to keep looking at them and feeling guilty.

Though Nancy Nix-Rice says don’t throw items out because you don’t love them – perhaps they look good as part of outfits, or can be altered.

It is a heavy-duty task to clear out all non-ideal clothes. Perhaps start by moving the best to the front, so they’re the ones you choose from. Keep the others for a few months in case you find you want to go back to them. If you haven’t worn something for a year (unless it’s one of your ‘unlikely occasion’ outfits) and you try to persuade yourself to wear it but without any enthusiasm, perhaps it’s time to help it move on to a new life through a re-seller or charity shop !

– remember outfits you have worn which made you feel good, right back to childhood.
The first outfit I was awed by was when my 12-year-old self was wearing a velvet dress with lace on the collar. As I was wearing blue jeans and fleece when I did this memories exercise, that was a good and surprising ‘message’ for me.

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I love clothes, so I can pick out many pictures of clothes which are not actually right for me to wear myself. And I’m a pattern nerd – with a similar effect ! So checking in with ‘would I be happy if I was wearing this ?’ feelings is important.

In our searches it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Go through your collection of ideas frequently and keep only your ‘top’ choices. Use the pinterest ‘delete’ button !

Start from the clothes you have found which really help you feel good, which make you want to reach for them in the morning. Pick out the style elements which are important for you, and combine them in your own way.

Make your explorations into fun sessions. Allow yourself to notice when your heart leaps, to celebrate or laugh about the styles you find. After all, none of this is real yet 😀

I have a good visual imagination, so I can imagine myself in a garment, both at home and out and about. The results have often surprised me.

But imagination is not essential. The next step is – moving all this into the real world by actually trying on some clothes.
Ideas on doing that in the next post.

Good Luck and Courage for going through this 😀

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There are 4 in this group of posts about personal style. The others are :
1. using style categories.
2. on-line style advisors.
4. trying on clothes.

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Links available August 2019

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