Welcome to the first week of my own wardrobe architect journal. I’m following the 2014 version of the series available on the Colette Blog. The earlier version progresses on a weekly basis instead of a monthly one.
The purpose of this process is to learn more about my own individual tastes and to develop a better sense of my individual style. This is something I’ve definitely struggled with and I’m looking forward to becoming more thoughtful about the items of clothing that I choose to make and buy.
Week one is all about identifying how your individuality can affect how you choose to present yourself to the world. I’ll be discussing how my history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location, and body have influenced my personality and the way I dress myself. Each section has a set of questions that I’ll try my best to answer as honestly as I can.
“How has your personal history informed the way you dress?”
I think my current lack of a defined style has come from the fact that the things I need from my wardrobe have changed a lot over the past decade. From student, to professional, to athlete, to student again…I’ve been responding to immediate needs without clearly defining my own style. I have only recently begun to learn to sew, so for most of my life I have been stuck purchasing ready to wear items that were in my price range and actually fit me. I used to buy items that weren’t quite perfect because they were better than having nothing to wear at all…over the years I realized they just filled space in my closet and ultimately ended up being a waste of money and materials.
“When did your tastes crystalize?”
I honestly don’t think that they have yet. Sewing is presenting me with the possibility of sewing clothing items that I want instead of being restricted to whatever is available to me.
“Have they changed over the years, and why?”
Absolutely! Changes of career, change of weight, change of city, adding new hobbies…all of these things have resulted in pretty drastic changes to my wardrobe over the years. I think the only clothing items I have from even four or five years ago are a couple of simple cardigans and a few hand knit sweaters that are infrequently worn but I am having trouble giving away.
“How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?”
I used to be a person that would buy a lot of items of clothing. I was always looking for sale items and almost never bought something for full price. I slowly got better at asking myself if I really loved an item before I would purchase it. I believe I still have a lot farther to go in this process.
When I think back to how wasteful I was in the past (and still am occasionally in the present), it makes me feel upset. I would like to have my wardrobe reflect more thoughtful purchasing (or creating) and a greater respect for the quality of items. My clothing is made by someone. It needs to be cared for. Each item should be something that I enjoy.
“How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?”
I grew up in a fairly rural area. Many people dressed fairly casually and practically and I was no exception; I definitely felt most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt. I have moved quite a few times since then and I am currently living in a city where people dress quite stylishly. Living in a different area has definitely changed the type of outfits that I will wear out the door. The one exception is my sports clothing; I will wear my weird outer space animal print leggings on the metro with pride.
“How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?”
My sports community definitely has had an effect on how I dress. If I had told myself 7 years ago that in the future I would be leaving the house in leggings, a tournament logo tank top and a sleeveless hoodie…well, I would have never believed it. I definitely would have been upset to know that a denim vest had become part of my regular casual wear. It has secret pockets, guys. SECRET POCKETS.
“How do your day to day activities influence your choices?”
I am currently a student again, so things have become almost too casual. I also have derby practice 3-4 times a week which means I have a fairly large sports wardrobe. This is actually the part of my wardrobe that has had the most fluctuation in the past year. My weight has changed and I have also discovered that there are some important criteria when selecting sport appropriate clothing. There aren’t many decent options for plus-sized athletes and finding good items requires patience.
“Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?”
Cold and snowy winters, slushy and unpredictable springs, hot and humid summers, and rainy and windy falls! I need a little bit of everything! I try to have items that can be layered so that they will be useful for all seasons.
“In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?”
Phew, this is the tough topic. I have always been fairly self-conscious about my body. I used to feel best in clothing that showed off my waist because it felt flattering. Now, that part of my body makes me feel uncomfortable. It is weird to recognize the body positive movement as something great and at the same time have difficulty being positive about my own body. It is a work in progress and something that I need to challenge myself on every single day.
On a positive note, I feel a lot of pride when I look at my legs. Even though I don’t feel comfortable to wear clothing that shows off my bare legs, I am happy with how strong they are. They show the progress that I’ve made in the past few years; I was definitely a late bloomer when it came to athletics.
Clothing that I don’t enjoy: Clingy items (why are all plus size stores filled with that godawful clingy polyester knit?), showing off my legs, pants that are too short, shirts that are too short, anything frilly and fussy.
Clothing that I do enjoy: Straight cut jeans that are fitted but not skin tight, fit and flare dresses that aren’t too fitted at the waist, pullovers, cardigans, and sleeveless button up shirts.
So, I am obviously a fan of breathing room! There is a definite sweet spot that I like to hit somewhere between fitted and baggy. It is pretty frustrating to have a closet full of items that are almost (but not quite) good enough! The best part about sewing has been learning how I can make little changes to a pattern to have a big impact on the resulting comfort and wearability. I’m becoming less focused on the fact that my body shape doesn’t work for most ready to wear clothing and more focused on how I can make clothing that works for me.
Well that’s it for week 1! I hope I’ll have less to say in future segments of this series because this was longer than some papers I’ve been writing for school. If you’ve made it this far, I suggest you reward yourself with a nice cup of tea and a cookie. Or maybe a beer and some chips…or wine and cheese? Whatever floats your boat.