My reactions to the Classic style

I have many reactions to wardrobe plans based on Classic styles (see my post on Classics). Some of my reactions I’ve gone on about many times before.

Personal style : Many people, me included, don’t wear the Classic style. Crispness and close fit don’t suit my body shape or my personality, though many people love them. I have rather a lot of posts on personal style.

Personal wardrobe plan : For many people, me included, that group of garment types – fitted jacket, top, pants, skirt, dress – doesn’t include the garment types we wear.
Here’s my post on finding your personal basic wardrobe plan.
The only wardrobe plan I’ve seen that represents what I wear is the Sewing Workshop layering wardrobe (my post).

Lifestyle has a big influence on your best wardrobe plan. Most published wardrobe plans are more useful for people who need to look efficient at work.

The word ‘classic’

So consider a much wider range of garment types and styles. And remember the word ‘classic’ has multiple meanings.
It can mean :
– a style with clear rules and little ornament, often considered a guide to what is good in design.
– a style which has endured, has stood the test of time.

In clothes I think the word ‘classic’ has two meanings :
The Classic style, as in my previous post.

The classics : these are garments which don’t have the simple clear Classic style but have been worn with pleasure for decades.
Such as Jeans.
Did you notice that none of the classic wardrobe plans I picked out mentions jeans ? Judith Rasband (“Wardrobe Strategies for Women” book) thinks they aren’t basic, as you can’t combine them with anything else and look good on any and every situation. What is acceptable has relaxed since she wrote her book 15 years ago, but that is still somewhat true. But jeans are one of the top selling garments of recent times. They are certainly an enduring style. So they are ‘classic’ in the sense of having been worn by many people over for a long period of time, even though they are not ‘classic’ in style. They’re classic casuals.

Think of the peasant blouse and tiered skirt, or the kaftan – instantly recognisable. They are enduring styles even though they are nothing like Classic style. Many of these styles are so well known they have their own names, and there are books on them for design students.

Perhaps I’m being nit-picky about this. It’s probably easier to call these enduring styles rather than classics.

My essential patterns

I know my personal wardrobe plan includes pullover layers, big shirts, vests, parkas.

As the next step on from knowing my personal wardrobe needs, I’ve been asking myself a focus question : what is the minimum number of patterns I could manage with ?

Several reasons for this, as a guide to :
– what I need as Tried ‘N True patterns for my own basic wardrobe.
– and even more fundamentally, what blocks I need as a basis for developing my own patterns, or morphing style elements onto from commercial patterns, so they fit me well.
– what are the sewing techniques and fabrics it’s most important for me to be relaxed about.

This has made me think, not just what garment types I wear, but also how they vary during the seasons, and what specific style elements I usually wear. To cover the whole year, I’ve managed to get the number of patterns down, not to a ‘Core 4’ but to a ‘Basic Eight’ or, including outerwear, a ‘Top Ten’. My summer/ winter clothes need different patterns as they have :
– different fabrications,
– different amounts of ease to allow for layering. As I wear many layers, I need more ease in my winter clothes than many patterns provide.

My essential Top Ten are :
– summer and winter blouse/ shirts with collars (summer one worn alone needs to cover my hips, winter one worn under other layers is best fitted and shorter),
– summer and winter pullover layers,
– summer and winter front opening big shirt/ jacket layers,
– winter vest,
– pants,
– summer and winter hooded parkas.

These layers are not alternatives to give different style effects, they may all be worn at the same time 😀

My essentials are fashionable

Although several of my Top Ten don’t appear in most wardrobe plans, they’re easy styles to buy, so obviously not unfashionable.

Here are some current examples from Polyvore.

summer weight layering pullover


Even UK Elle has a spread on these this month (June 2012).

winter pullover
winter layering jacket


winter vest (I’m looking at Polyvore in the spring, and didn’t find a picture of a padded vest, which I wear all the time in winter)


summer and winter parka (only summer ones shown)


I don’t wear a fitted jacket often enough for one to make it to my list of essentials, but here are some examples. Just to show you aren’t limited to blazer, shawl collar, cascade !


Hundreds of choices at Polyvore, so obviously I haven’t got unusual tastes, even if these garments don’t appear in wardrobe plans from the experts 😀

These layering pullovers, big shirts or loose jackets and vests are ‘basics’ for me, as I wear them all the time. The Polyvore ones I’ve picked don’t all co-ordinate beautifully, but it’s possible to co-ordinate a smaller selection. As usual, it’s easier to get them to co-ordinate if they have few individual style elements.

My essential sewing techniques

The Classics can involve tailoring and intricate couture, the epitome of high class sewing. But those techniques are not part of my clothing style, so not something I need beat myself up about not being able to do. Many people enjoy that sort of sewing as a skill to take pleasure in for it’s own sake. My favourite sewing skills are more in the direction of embellishment, quilting, embroidery and heirloom sewing. That may fit with my preference for softer lines.

Key techniques also include familiarity with fabrics. Do you need to be able to sew with gabardine and fine silks ? I need to know about sewing cotton, linen, fleece, velvet, crepe, brocade, fake fur. People with a more romantic style may want to know how to handle charmeuse, satin, chiffon, lace. People with a more casual style may want to know how to sew a variety of knits, or ‘performance’ protective fabrics, as their priorities.

Oh I do feel so much happier looking at my own style choices rather than all that crisp tailoring and skin tight knits 😀

How about Krista Larson Clothing to remind you there are possibilities which are nothing like the formal Classics 😀

Which styles warm your heart ?

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Links available April 2012

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4 Comments on “My reactions to the Classic style”

  1. Lynn Mally Says:

    Isn’t personal style an interesting thing? I would certainly call many of those jackets that you showed above “tailored” and even “classic.” It just goes to show that labels are both helpful AND confusing when we talk about clothes.

    Here are the basic things that I make and wear over and over again: pull on straight legged pants in knits and wovens; knit tops of many shapes, but mostly with boat necks; and “tailored” jackets with all kinds of collars.

    • sewingplums Says:

      You’re right Lynn that I’m using words in a limited way – all the wardrobe plans I’ve seen recently have been based on a notched collar blazer. . .

  2. Nancy Bannister Says:

    This has really got me thinking. There is a *huge* difference between what I want to sew and what I really wear and need. I live in a hot, desert climate, work in an informal environment, and dance 3 to 4 times a week. I live in skirts: lightweight, mostly A-line and fuller. I have little need for much in the way of true winter wear. What am I attracted to? What do I indulge myself with spending my precious sewing time on? Heavily tailored and structured pieces with tons of hand sewing, muslining, redrafting, interesting seams, and ease that often is closely fitted. It’s a conundrum.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Sew what you enjoy doing 😀 It’s a hobby not a necessity. Even if you don’t wear the items you make, they’ll give you great pleasure, interest, sense of accomplishment while sewing and when you see them in your closet !

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