Monday, 24 August 2015

Making Style More Personal

Following the starting points for 'architecting' a wardrobe from the Colette Blog, the first step is thinking about making style more personal. Through exploring the following areas we can begin to think about what makes us who we are, and how that can be reflected in our personal style:


I was a tall child and grew upwards quickly. This meant that even as a teenager I hardly ever had trousers that met my ankles. Out of necessity I began to customise my clothes from a young age - I would make trousers and jeans that were too short into cropped trousers or add a band of different fabric to the hem to make them longer. Jeans often were turned into skirts too and straight leg jeans were given triangles of fabric at the leg seam to turn them into flares. This was because my parents did not have the money to buy me the clothes that I wanted and I was resourceful enough to try to create them myself. The first pair of trousers I can remember customising was when I was about 10, they were my favourite cargo trousers that I had got too tall for, so I cropped them to just below knee length and added some silver ribbon to the hem. Initially I used my mum's sewing machine, but my grandma bought me my first machine (second hand from one of her friends - a 1970s Singer) when I was 10 or 11. I kept this for about 15 years till I eventually upgraded to a better secondhand machine.


I'm not a religious person, but I think I am a moral one. My philosophy is that we should try to protect the things that we value, like relationships, health and nature. By being more involved in creating and sustaining these things I hope that it can deepen my appreciation of them.


I come from a family where the culture is to 'make do and mend'. This verges on hoarding. Items are repurposed and recycled, kept in case they become useful in the future. Whilst there are benefits to this attitude and it saves unnecessarily discarding things, it does lead to a lot of clutter. I want to be able to separate the truly useful from the rubbish, the things that I like and enjoy from those which no longer have any use or value to me.


I have never felt like I belong to any kind of community. This is partly due to having moved around a lot when I was growing up and partly due to my own painfully shy nature. Having recently moved to a town where I do not know a single person, I am working hard to join new groups and try to become part of a community. I think as a nation, our lives are so different to how they were 60 years ago that the meaning of community for us has to change. People no longer spend all their lives in the same town but move for work and education. Community can be a shared interest rather than a traditional location-based group.


I have always been an indoorsy kind of girl, preferring a good book and a box of chocolates to a run in the rain. This has changed since having a baby and I like to get out of the house whenever I get the opportunity. Clothes need to be comfortable now, above anything else, and capable of being worn out if I fancy nipping out quickly.


Living in the UK means that I have always been a fan of layering - our climate almost demands it. The weather can change so quickly, requiring layers to be taken off or put on. Layering also means that clothes do not have to be worn for only a few months of the year, but can be transitional and multi-seasonal.


I have never been one of those people who feels comfortable with their body, but I am getting better at appreciating it. I first started to feel good about it when I achieved my black belt in Tae Kwon-do, aged 17. I felt strong and powerful and fit. Having a baby gave me a similar feeling of pride, though my body and fitness were at completely the opposite end of the scale. We are not very good in western society at accepting our different shapes and sizes. Part of the reason I have so many ill fitting clothes is that I often have refused to accept that this is the way my body is and I have almost willed it to change to fit the clothes I have bought (to no avail!)

Friday, 21 August 2015

Welcome to The Wardrobe Architect

I decided to start this blog about the revitalisation of my wardrobe after reading about the wardrobe architect movement on the Colette blog. I started reading this series when I was pregnant, and since having my baby boy and starting maternity leave, I decided that it was a good time for a style overhaul.

I've attempted to succinctly list the reasons behind my wardrobe overhaul below:

1 - change in priorities
I used to be very attached to all my belongings, with clothes holding sentimental value for me. However, since having a baby, material possessions seem much less important. I feel I should embrace this new found carelessness and de-clutter, which brings me onto the second point...

2 - requirement to clear out some stuff
I live in a small terraced house with my husband and baby boy. Our spare room has a large built in wardrobe, our 'overflow' wardrobe. The need to turn this into a proper bedroom for our little boy means that the wardrobe has to be ripped out and the contents will be displaced. Rather than cramp our master bedroom with a second wardrobe, the sensible option seemed to be to get rid of some of our surplus clothing. If it hasn't been worn for 18 months, it's going.

3 - changing style
Another reason why it feels easier to have a clear out is that my style has changed. Since finishing my degree I have fewer nights out (actually none since having a baby!), which means I require fewer pairs of heels, fewer dressy tops and skirts, etc etc.

4 - too many clothes that are ill fitting
Whilst shopping with friends I inevitably got caught out by buying things that they like, that suit their shape and style rather than my own. This has resulted in a disjointed selection of clothing that is ill fitting in many senses.

5 - unsuitability of many clothes for nursing / parenthood
I am coming to the realisation that my tummy will never go back to its pre-pregnancy state, and I'm completely fine with this. My body has done an amazing thing by nurturing our beautiful baby, and the stretch marks are a reminder of how wonderful it was to be pregnant and how lucky I feel to have been able to have the experience. Tight t-shirts, low rise jeans and short shorts now seem uncomfortable and unflattering. Plus as I am breastfeeding, and intend to continue for several months, I require clothes that facilitate this easily. 

6 - desire to make my own clothes, tailored to my needs
This point summarises all the above points really. By making my own wardrobe of specifically crafted garments, I can ensure that the fit is perfect, the fabric suits both me and the style of the garment, and that my wardrobe looks like it all belongs to the same person.

7 - discontentment with our throw-away society
The introduction of 'cheap and cheerful' to our clothing market is not a positive thing in my opinion. As a society we buy too many cheap items of clothing that are not intended to last, that wash and wear badly, and that ultimately end up in landfill. The origin of these items is also questionable and brings into play the ethics of fair trade.

This blog will follow my journey through the process of cutting down my wardrobe to some key staples, and making clothing that is right for me, my life now and my changing needs.