Archive for August 2009

Tunic Wardrobe

August 3, 2009

Finally I realise I get confused by advice on wardrobe planning because most of it doesn’t apply easily to me. After a year of learning a lot from following the wardrobe planning strand at Stitchers Guild, I’ve been doing some ‘revision’.

Nearly every wardrobe plan I have looked at starts with a structured jacket – pants combination, and builds up from that by adding other pieces. Twenty years ago, in the early days of styling books, it was a matched jacket-skirt combination.

But I just don’t wear them. I didn’t even for the last decades of my working life. For work I often did wear a jacket + skirt or pants, but always separates. I only wore a matching suit for rare very formal occasions.

This is one of the reasons why I feel more at home with Janet Wallach’s Working Wardrobe. Although she doesn’t explicitly say so, she has categories of garments – bottoms, tops, layering pieces. And in her examples, when she pulls something out from someone’s closet as the starting point for building a wardrobe, the items are of good quality in flattering colours, but they rarely make a matching suit.

Also the example clothes in wardrobe books are always classic ‘urban’ styles for an hourglass figure (and in black – aargh). That is of course inevitable, for simplicity. But none of that is ‘me’. It’s not what I’m comfortable with or what I aspire to. And it makes things more difficult for someone with a tendency to be literal minded like me. I have to do a lot of mental re-imagining to get the suggestions to seem at all relevant to me.

I now realise it is more helpful to work out what I actually wear, and use that as the basis of my wardrobe plan – as a guide to which types of clothes I need to collect and coordinate better versions of. It’s relevant to mention :
– I’m retired and am happiest in casual clothes
– I almost always wear pants, except for very special occasions. I love swirling in skirts, but they’re just not practical for my lifestyle.
– I live in a moderate climate and feel the cold.

My tops are :

summer : shirt indoors, unstructured jacket outdoors.
spring-autumn : add tunic and/or sweater indoors, raincoat with hood outdoors.
winter : add padded vest indoors, padded coat with hood outdoors.
Signature accessory : basket

So I shouldn’t have just one tunic and one padded vest, because they’re never mentioned in capsule wardrobes. I should have lots of them !

And because I do so much layering, my wardrobe needs to be very top heavy, not to have an equal number of tops and bottoms with just one jacket. That approach only works for people who live in warm climates. My best minimum capsule might be :
2 pants
2 shirts
2 thin sweaters
2 warm tunics or sweaters
2 padded vests.
All coordinating of course.

Not much resemblance to any suggested wardrobe capsule I’ve ever seen !

Well, that also clarifies why most wardrobe patterns, which focus on jackets and dresses, have no resonance for me !

So, once I can get away from the very blinkered vision I’ve got from reading too many wardrobe advice books, and trying to force myself to want to wear a jacket, I discover that there are quite a lot of tunic – pants patterns available, particularly among Very Easy Vogue sportswear, and some in Butterick sportswear. So perhaps finding a good wardrobe for me is not as difficult as I thought. . .

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