Archive for the ‘personal style’ category

One Pattern Many Looks – pattern hacking

May 22, 2022

Having recently established my own group of core essentials patterns which I can use as the base for pattern hacking, I’ve been pulling together my previous posts related to this topic into a group of 2 posts :
– pattern hacking – this post,
– choosing a small group of core patterns to use as the starting point for hacking – separate post.

Once you have a basic pattern you’re happy with, there’s an almost infinite number of changes you can make to it. With the special bonus that, if the starting pattern fits you well, the patterns you make from it are likely to fit you well too. Here are some of the many books and patterns on the subject. Follow through with any of them for a huge range of ideas.

As my body is very non-average – developing some basic patterns that fit well, and then hacking them to make new styles, works much better for me than using a different pattern for every project. So this is a topic I keep returning to. The suggestions below are the options that come first to mind, so most are in my casual top-plus-pants style.

Most of the books include patterns, but I think it’s best to use their ideas to alter your own pattern blocks. Otherwise you just keep repeating the same problem: every time you start with a new book or pattern, you have to get the patterns to fit you before you can start making your own styles.

You can of course choose your own group of basic block patterns to use in your hacking. In this blog I have often chosen a group of patterns as the base for a capsule. I have linked to those posts in a second post, though they contain little hacking guidance. Perhaps like me you just need :
– blouse/ layering top (jacket)/pants.
Or your key choices might be :
– sheath dress/dress with waist seam/’french’ jacket, or
– tee/ cardigan/ jeans,
or any other grouping, depending on your personal style.

Once you have your base patterns, the sources linked from this post are ones that do much of the thinking for you about how to change them, they include many ideas and much guidance on both pattern making and construction.

– – –

One-pattern-many-looks books, patterns included :

This isn’t all of them, some others are mentioned in my other posts.

full size paper patterns :
Sonya Philip, Act of Sewing, patterns for cut-on sleeve and fitted sleeve tops, a-line skirt, pants. Half the book is on simple pattern alterations.
100acts

Kwik Sew Easy Sewing, patterns for tee, camp shirt, pants, straight and flared skirts. Many alternative styles for each, with pattern changes indicated.
kwiksew

pdf patterns :
Amy Barickman Magic Pattern Book, patterns for tank top, peasant style top/dress, skirt, cardigan, coat, accessories, with patterns for 6 variations of each plus many more ideas.

draft patterns from diagrams :
Rusty Bensussen, 4 patterns – top (also used for dresses, jackets, coats), pants, a-line and circle skirts.
rusty4patts

Bordow and Rosenberg Hassle Free Make Your Own Clothes, mainly skirt, top, pants.

I don’t wear dresses and skirts, but this is one of several books about modular dress patterns – combine any bodice with any skirt : Tanya Whelan.

and there are several similar books about skirts, such as :
A-line skirts.
4 skirt silhouettes.
This is even easier – Sew What Skirts.

In the same spirit as the last skirts book, but about making simple items from fleece – Sew What Fleece.

– – –

If you prefer videos, these are some options.

A couple of DVDs by Angela Wolf at Threads :
One Pattern Many Ways One, and Two.

Many classes at Craftsy.
Many classes from Suzy Furrer on changing style elements. I do not recommend her classes on basic sloper drafting as she claims to help you draft personalised patterns, but actually uses many ‘industry standard’ measures, so the patterns are barely better fitting than any other.
I find when I have followed one of these pattern drafting methods (not just Suzy Furrer’s, any of the ‘personalised’ sloper drafting methods) I then have to do a huge amount of fitting work to get the draft to work for me, so I might as well do that on a starter pattern and skip all the drafting effort. I don’t have any problems with the geometry and maths of drafting, what does leave me spitting pins is that the supposedly well-fitting pattern I end up with after a lot of work actually has no relation to me whatever. And I’ve tried many such methods. See my fitting posts. And as you can see, whenever this topic comes up, I’m still so angry I can’t resist a rant !
But Suzy Furrer does also have many classes on how to change style elements, and you can use those ideas on your own base patterns that do fit you well.

(Much easier ways of getting core patterns that fit without drafting your own block :
cut-on sleeve top,
sleeved top,
basic pants fit.)

There are also Craftsy classes on changes you can make starting from a basic blouse and pants patterns (patterns not included).

– – –

Pattern ranges

Fit for Art has several basic patterns with detailed instructions on how to get them to fit well. Then many add-on patterns with the specific pattern pieces for making other styles.

There is a Simplicity hacking patterns range which includes the pattern pieces you need – not as many options in this range as there used to be.

– – –

The following sources refer to master patterns which must be bought separately. You can use many of their ideas on your own pattern block, so it is not essential to start from their master pattern :

from Judy Kessinger of FitNice, who has master patterns for top and pants :
tops, dresses, pants, jackets.
tops only.

from Glenda Sparling of Sure-Fit Designs : variations of her dress, shirt, pants patterns.

Or, if you want to be more in ‘official pattern making style’, the book by Adele Margolis starts from a fitting sloper and makes it all much easier than the big college textbook tomes.

– – –

Pattern hacking can be very easy to do. Don’t be put off trying it by looking at one of the huge college pattern making textbooks.
Many ideas in this pattern hacking post, which has :
– many suggestions for simple starting points.
– links to more patterns which include hacking instructions.

And yet more ideas in these hacking posts. More books and patterns to add to those listed above :
My sewing style is one pattern many looks.
easiest pattern changes.
more simple starting points for pattern changes.
more books.

– – –

Choose and develop the fit of your own core patterns (see some ideas on the patterns to choose in the second post in this group), and look here and at the hacking posts for ideas on what to do with them !

Once you find pattern hacking is something you enjoy doing, the range of options can be overwhelming. Explore to find which part of all this fascinates you, what lifts your spirits and warms your heart 😀

= = = = =

Finding your style 1 : using style categories

August 22, 2019

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

The basic rule is :
“remove everything from your wardrobe that you don’t love, that doesn’t make you feel happy”.
If everything in your closet makes you feel happy, you’ll feel happy when you look at it 😀 what a boost to morale and self-confidence 😀
And you haven’t got to follow wardrobe advisors’ advice about what to love. But they may help with suggestions for finding what is good for you.

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.

(And if you don’t want to be bothered with all this faff about clothes, then that is part of your style. Stop reading this immediately, and go and do something you do enjoy 😀 )

– – –

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 or wear a leather backpack 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

= = = = =

Finding your style 2 : on-line style advisors

August 22, 2019

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, Zoom 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 somewhat 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.
This is a very 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.
If the main style categories are not ‘you’ : an extended section of things to try if you can’t find yourself in other people’s categories !

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 : within each overall 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’. Sadly patterns can become unavailable quite quickly, but you can get many ideas about what to look for from these images.
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 !
She has collected together a group of her posts on developing personal style.

I enjoyed her ‘7 Steps to Style’ course, not free but rich with useful information on colouring and body shape (for the ’16 Style Types’ course see below).

Stunning Style from April Grow has good posts on five ‘classic style twists’ : cute, edgy, minimal, soft, sporty. Her detailed wardrobe guides are easiest to follow if you love edgy classics and look good in ‘Winter’ colours. I enjoyed her ‘Perfectly Put Together’ course, which analyses the detail of garments and focusses on what it is you really like about your favourite clothes. Her examples are edgy classics but she is always generously encouraging about wearing what you love, whatever it may be. 2021 – she has started courses on her other Style Twists, which include many inspirational images. I’m delighted to find there are many photos for me which are not edgy at all 😀

Sadly Truth is Beauty is not as good as it used to be, she no longer provides free access to her inspirational Pinterest boards on her 63! style categories. But look at this page for the style category names. Type a name you think you may be in the search box upper right and many blog posts will come up below the products.

I’ve never thought of myself as living in a fairy tale, but if you do then what fun 😀 Though Fantastical Beauty (see top right on that page) is another site that appears to have dropped the useful services – there’s no longer a guide to finding which of her types you may be.

None of those courses focus only on the young and slim, but if you fear they might there’s a course from 40plusStyle.

As stylists do not all see the world in the same way, it’s helpful to search until you find one that suits you. For example, these 4 stylists expand their style categories in different directions :
Imogen Lamport and Truth is Beauty both use 7 personal style categories. They both include the basic 4 that are used by many systems : Classic, Natural, Dramatic, Romantic.
Then Imogen Lamport adds Elegant Chic and also Creative, Rebellious – rather aggressively quirky in style, which are more ways of being Dramatic. (Creative here means a unique combination of pieces, usually the wearers are not makers.) (In my opinion, Kibbe’s styles are also inclined to Dramatic. In his book he really doesn’t know what to do with soft classics, they just get ‘mother of the bride’.)
Truth is Beauty adds Ethereal, Gamine, Ingenue to the basic 4 styles – quirky on a quieter smaller scale, these are more ways of being Romantic/ Feminine.
April Grow at Stunning Style specialises in 5 varieties of Classic – cute, edgy, minimal, soft, sporty.
Classy yet Trendy’s 6 categories include several options for Natural/ Relaxed/ Casual style : stay at home mom (soft relaxed), athleisure (sporty), teacher (‘elevated’ casual – no blue jeans), french minimalist (both dressy and casual, neutral colours only), essential (both dressy and casual), also workwear (classic).
Which of these, or perhaps someone else entirely, suggests styles that you feel are ‘right’ for you ?

If your style is far from mainstream, you may have to do much searching before you find an advisor you feel at home with. Many stylists don’t even mention some of the possibilities, so don’t help you to realise they exist. As examples : I love heirloom stitching and smock styles. Truth is Beauty used to be the only site which mentions them. Now that April Grow at Stunning Style is showing styles which are not Edgy (in her Style Twist courses) she does include them. And there is a fun Facebook group for lagenlook, which style advisors certainly never mention 😀

Or perhaps the teaching style doesn’t suit you. Many people get exasperated with the Truth is Beauty site as there’s little help with finding things. On the other hand, many people love Merriam Style. But I need an overview to start from, and I didn’t last five minutes with her videos ! One of the courses below in my ‘not for me’ section is mainly in words, while for style I do better with images.

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.

We are all different, and I suspect the best / most helpful course to take very much depends on the individual.
I personally have got the most out of :
Truth is Beauty – I was lucky to find her when she gave free access to many inspiring images, the first style advisor I found who includes my style. She has 63 style categories, many more than most people.
Seamwork magazine Design Your Wardrobe class (only open to members) – includes a thought provoking section on finding your own style – and no categories !
Stunning Style Society – April Grow’s style is nothing like mine, but I did find her constant emphasis on wearing only what you love had a big impact on the quality of my wardrobe. She has excellent collections of images for each of her ’classic style twists’ (also only for members).

– – –

Examples of personal style advice ‘fails’ for me

I’ve so far mentioned some on-line stylists I have learned from. But there are ones I find less useful (this isn’t all of them 😀 ).

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 style and 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. I’m definitely ‘sensitive’ and wear soft shapes, but I look best in clear warm quiet colours, terrible in muted cool ones. 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 and Jill Chilvers’ Your Type of Style : 16 Style Types course is on dressing your MBTI personality Type. Okay, 16 Types are better than 4, but still don’t capture the whole of human nature !
I first tried the shorter ‘Discover your style type‘ course. I’ve never, in years of reading books 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 3 of the 4 MBTI dimensions (the same result in the test on the official MBTI site). Matches some of my attitudes to clothes and shopping, but there’s very little about specific styles to wear.
Despite that, I naively and optimistically signed on for the longer course. There is more in the longer course, but it relates most of your style options to your MBTI Type.  So if you can’t manage to constrain yourself to a single MBTI Type (it’s mainly a tool for middle management), or you don’t recognise yourself in Imogen’s 7 style categories, then you’re unlikely to get much value from this course !
Some people fit into this system well, and find this approach opens up important insights for them, but many people dropped out when I took this course. And from the course attitude – you ‘must’ be one of the 16 Types – I suspect many of them left feeling there was something wrong with them, which is sad. The MBTI is after all only one personality theory among hundreds, and none of them can be completely accurate, only helpful. Each theory captures some fragments of our complex natures. The MBTI is obviously helpful for these authors, and for some of the rest of us, but not all. 
Though it must be said that some people take the opposite approach. Instead of retiring defeated when they can’t find their single Type, they repeat the course again and again, each year ‘trying on’ a different Type and learning more about themselves (repeats are free).

Another issue is that this course is mainly written instructions with very few style images, so if you like a good choice of images to get ideas from, this is not for you. I picked up a few pointers about my style early on, but just skimmed later sections.  Despite my very wordy blog posts, I need images for styling.
Some possible sources of good image collections :
Truth is Beauty no longer provides free access to her inspirational Pinterest boards on her 63 style categories. But look at her page for the style category names. Type a category you think you may be in the search box upper right and many blog posts will come up below the products.
The Stunning Style Chic Twist courses are excellent, full of photos but not free, and currently only available to members.
Or look at the patterns suggested for different Kibbe types by Doctor T.

If you feel it would be helpful to be analytic and verbal about how clothing style elements relate to your personality, and you get a clear answer on MBTI tests, then you may find the 16 Style Types course worthwhile. If you are a visual and heart person who needs images for inspiration, and chooses what you like to wear based directly on how you feel when wearing it, then you may feel this course is an expensive mistake. Instead, if you have taken any of Imogen’s paid-for courses, you’ll have free access to her ‘Visualise your style’ course, which does focus on images of what you love. Follow William Morris or KonMari – keep only items that are useful or ‘spark joy’.
April Grow’s Perfectly put together course puts the emphasis on wearing what you love. April’s own example outfits are Edgy styles in Winter colours, but the main inspiration applies to every style.
I got good value from Imogen’s ‘7 Steps to Style’ course, which has detailed guidance on good colours and shapes, but not here.

My Private Stylist has a questionnaire which is a good example that some stylists may not be right for us at all. She claims it guides 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 is not where I belong.

We just need to accept this will happen with some stylists – it feels as if they limit our possibilities rather than opening up a rich vista. If so, choose to move on.

– – –

In the same way that we may find we’re a mixture of stylist’s personal style categories, we may also find we don’t fit neatly into any body shape or colouring categories. But it can still be helpful to see what we can learn from these systems about what may be the best choices for us.

– – –

What is best for 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.

Make what use of it you can. As usual I’m mixed, clearly bottom heavy so a ‘pear’ or ‘A’ in Imogen’s system, but not ‘triangle’ as I have a clearly defined waist, an 8 in Imogen’s system. So I’m mixed pear/hourglass. In Imogen’s system there are many of us who are ‘A over 8’.

(For books I love oop Flatter your figure by Jan Larkey.)

And you may love styles which don’t flatter your body shape – well, not to worry, go for what you love (hourglass figures who love lagenlook. . . ). 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.

Indeed there is now also a very different approach to dressing your body which, instead of comparing bust waist hip widths (with suggestions about illusions which make you look a more ‘ideal’ shape), looks at length proportions and yin-yang features.
Here’s a video from Audrey Coyne who tries out 4 different ways of doing this.
The analysts all come up with such different recommendations it’s obviously rather an individual-subjective process, but there are some interesting ideas to try out.
The four analysts are :
6.30 min. Elyssa.
13 min. Frani.
23 min. Nona.
26 min. Rachel.
Frani and Nona both use the Kibbe body typing system and (fortunately) both choose the same type !

Audrey Coyne also has a YouTube channel and a blog.

Much to watch from all of these people if you enjoy style videos.

– – –

What is best for your personal colouring

Probably the best colour advice comes from a personal face-to-face consultation using fabric colour drapes. Though even these are best done by someone recommended, as they may use a system which gives minimal training.

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.

These on-line services fall in three groups.

People who give general advice about colour categories.
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 😀

There are many ‘expanded season’ colour services online, with simple DIY analysis. I particularly like True Colour.

People who give personal advice based on photos you send them.
As screens, cameras, software and printers can alter colours, personal colour advice is not something that’s easy to do well on-line or from photos. In my opinion, advisors who do not insist your photos are taken in natural light without wearing make-up are even more unlikely to be correct.

People who send physical colour comparison cards.
I think courses which mail you physical comparison colour cards are better than courses using only virtual colours. You hold these cards up against your face, and you or they decide which look flattering and like you. As both you and the reference colours are in the same lighting, camera, processing software etc. the comparison is likely to be more valid.

I have tried a service which sent colour cards which were none of them anything like me (now not available). I haven’t tried all these methods, but have found 2 examples which for me gave useful advice :
– 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 those use their own colour groupings, rather than a ‘season’ analysis.
They use warm-cool, bright-soft, light-medium-dark colour dimensions.
Nancy Nix-Rice adds level of contrast and size of pattern to those, 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 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, warm tan skin, cool pink lips, warm brown eyes and eyebrows – 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. . .

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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 and feel 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 (they earn their living from people following their recommendation links).
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 :
– ‘Looking Good’ book and DVD.
– a Craftsy video class.
blog posts suggesting sewing patterns, many from Pamela’s Patterns.
– a membership site with a 3-month on-line class and community discussion, Looking Good Together.

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.  Cutting Line have a pdf of their pattern line drawings, so you can play with outfit combinations, perhaps try them on a personal croquis.

Sewing Workshop pattern’s Sew Confident series builds up a capsule wardrobe over the course of each year. The courses include much technique advice and sew-alongs, but assume you look good in their styles, and in black !

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 has 9 downloadable pdf patterns claimed to be makable in an afternoon. I don’t know about that, but they are all simple, with a wide variety of style elements which, with a little knowledge of pattern hacking (not included), you could combine in many different ways.

Many stylists tell you how to build a capsule, but that may not be the 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 😀

More on capsules in this specific post.

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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.
Categories are tools, they may aid communication, and help style advisors to point you in the direction of clothes you may like. But they’re not ‘big truths’ which all advisors agree on !

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

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 2 rules : wear what you love, and don’t spend beyond your budget. The details of what works for us we have to explore. Trying style courses may help with this by showing us some of the options, but ultimately we have to make our own decisions.

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.
I’ve recently come across a new style word ‘cottagecore’ which could be a good word for me.
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 ? wear Ivey Abitz style ? Are any of the Folkwear patterns to your taste ?

Some people like to follow celebrity/ influencer style. But those people have genes which mean they look good photographed from any angle, near average bodies so RTW fits well, and apparently unlimited budgets (or they get lent clothes by designers). 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 styleARC 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.

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Getting closer to wearing your own style is a way of making you feel better about yourself, not worse ! These are some of the pitfalls I’ve experienced with personal style courses . . .

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 !

Oddly, many of the sites which claim to cover all styles don’t include anything like what I love. But they may insist strongly that they do include everything, even that there’s something wrong with you if you can’t find where you fit in. That attitude can make me feel so invalidated/ alienated/ knocked off-centre, I need to carry some self-care supplies while exploring them. Is there something to look at/ hold/ listen to, a person, an activity, which automatically makes you feel yourself, so you can get grounded back at your centre again ?

Also there are several sites which claim to be all about ‘self expression’ in your clothing choices, which actually have quite strict rules on how you go about expressing yourself – what type of person you ‘ought’ to be expressing. As if there’s only one way of dressing to express yourself. I think you ought to feel free to be an extreme classic, or very unfashionable.  Wear totally mismatched wrongly proportioned clothes. Wear only black with sharp angles.  What makes you feel truly you 😀

And 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, or that you’re having to force yourself to follow their suggestions, then thank them for what you have learned from them, and move on to look for other insights elsewhere. And one day you’ll find yourself making your own decisions 😀

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

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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.

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Originally written August 2019, links checked June 2021

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Finding your style 3 : exploring your own style

August 22, 2019

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 an unexpected wedding, christening, funeral, ‘black tie’ event ?
Some of us have mainly workwear – so what would you wear to an unexpected invitation to a football or hockey match ? music festival ? beach or mountain vacation ?
It’s good to have done some advance ‘what if’ wardrobe planning. Then you’re unlikely to be caught out by very rare events, and have something wearable waiting in your closet for when they do occur.

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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 ?

Many of us have been so bombarded with fashion images and musts that we have no feeling of certainty about what we love. If so, try doing what is called ‘paired comparisons’. Just take two items and choose which of them you prefer. Then take that and compare with another item, which do you prefer ? and so on. Continue through your items and you will reduce them to a smaller number which you have some positive feelings about. Take that as a good starting point.

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 you don’t find the standard clothes style words used by style advisors (classic, casual, etc) resonate at all for you, have a look at this Aesthetics Wiki site which explores many other style words.

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 ?

– if you have some favourite celebrities, find photos of what they wear for everyday. Which outfits would feel and look good on you too ?

– 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.
April Grow’s Perfectly Put Together course explores some of these choices, with many examples. Her own preferences are mainly edgy classics in winter colours, so the specific examples may not be right for many of us. But the general principle, of wearing only what you love, comes across clearly – and it can be useful to think about your own versions of her choices.

– 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.

– – – – –

Links available August 2019

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